See First Trailer for Sundance Winner Nanny — Which Director Nikyatu Jusu Calls a 'Sexy Fever Dream'

·4 min read

This nanny is experiencing some on-the-job horror stories.

In the first trailer for Nanny shared exclusively with PEOPLE, Anna Diop stars as Aisha, an immigrant from Senegal starting a new life in New York City. Hired as the nanny for a wealthy Manhattan family, she's saving up so her young son can move to the Big Apple with her, but supernatural forces begin to creep into her dreams and day-to-day life as his arrival approaches.

Released by Prime Video in a continued partnership with Blumhouse, Nanny won the top honor at this year's Sundance Film Festival, becoming the first horror film to take the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for drama. Writer/director Nikyatu Jusu is only the second Black woman filmmaker to win the award, too.

Jusu tells PEOPLE that Nanny is "an existential — but sexy — fever dream that you can't wake up from."

She explains of her inspiration for the film, "Domestic work is one of the oldest, most consistently accessible occupations for Black and brown women globally. Growing up, my mother sustained our household with this occupation, making a living caring for others, in the midst of putting her dreams and aspirations on hold in pursuit of the shiny, capricious 'American Dream.' "

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The Nanny
The Nanny

Courtesy Prime Video Nanny (2022)

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"Fiercely protective of her, I've always worried about her safety, her treatment in these domestic enclaves, and rather than approach this familiar tale with straightforward dramatic execution, I wanted to incorporate spiritual genre elements that spoke to my lineage," says Jusu.

She explains, "Once I arrived to NYU grad film and literally saw the visual manifestation of Black and brown women pushing mostly white children in strollers, I knew it was a sign to start getting my ideas on paper."

Jusu adds that the "supposed 'American Dream' is, in reality, a nightmare for many."

"I set out to make a film that evokes this thrumming terror and anxiety in even the most banal facets of our everyday existence that eventually accumulate into full-blown crises," Jusu says.

The Nanny
The Nanny

Courtesy Prime Video Nanny (2022)

"There are so many entry points of identification: Whether you were a nanny, were raised by a nanny, hired a nanny or, most specifically, the women in your family have worked as nannies, there are many lenses through which viewers can access this film," says Jusu. "Domestic labor impacts all of our lives, directly and indirectly."

Lead actress Diop (whose character explores a romance with Sinqua Walls' character Malik), 34, describes Nanny as "haunting," noting that "a lot of the film feels like a dream."

"Between the cinematography and storytelling, it feels like you're in and out of Aisha's dream state and reality. And as the film progresses, Aisha herself struggles to discern reality from dreams or just psychosis," she says, adding, "I think horror and mystery are a fascinating and engaging way to tell this story."

The Nanny
The Nanny

Courtesy Prime Video Nanny (2022)

Michelle Monaghan costars as Amy, the working mom who hires (and butts heads with) Aisha to care for her daughter Rose, whom she shares with photographer husband Adam (Morgan Spector).

Monaghan tells PEOPLE the "thought-provoking" movie is "confronting and entertaining," featuring a "beautifully restrained and layered" performance from Diop.

The Nanny
The Nanny

Courtesy Prime Video Nanny (2022)

About Nanny, Monaghan says it's a "psychologically suspenseful film from a filmmaker who has such a unique and critical voice."

Jusu adds of the characteristics she sought for the role of Amy, "Whomever I cast as Amy would need to possess a sense of self-awareness in order to portray the nuances of privilege. I never want to showcase caricatures. Truth is more damning, more effective."

Nanny trailer premiere
Nanny trailer premiere

Courtesy of Prime Video

Jusu says "authenticity" was key to her while making the film.

"I hope viewers think differently about their own place in the world as it relates to others," she continues. "We are all the lead characters in our own narratives, but if we all expanded our purview to really see and feel our fellow humans buzzing around us, the empathy machine that storytelling has the potential to be can be actualized."

"Regardless of pre-existing inequities dividing us, this life is a group project — we need one another, and until the most oppressed of us are free, none of us is," Jusu adds.

Nanny is in theaters Nov. 23 and streaming on Prime Video Dec. 16.