Directed by Michael Thelin.
Starring Sarah Bolger, Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Chris Beetem, and Susan Pourfar.
A couple’s replacement babysitter turns out to be more than they bargained for when she subjects their kids to a series of twisted activities.
Early on, Anna/Emelie (all you really need to know is that she is the babysitter parents have nightmares about leaving their children with) delivers a small speech on the power of pretending. Not only is it unnerving and genuinely creepy (it’s obvious she has ulterior motives), but it is also her method of home invasion; fake being a babysitter and accomplish one very sinister goal.
Emelie is one of the better, more tense-driven horror films to come out in quite some time, but unfortunately does not completely deliver on its promising premise, mostly falling into clichés and predictability during the second half. Thankfully, those first 45 minutes or so are enough to make the movie worth recommending for anyone looking for a movie about a nutjob going to extreme lengths to get something sinister done, scarring innocent children for life.
The problem with Emelie is that the film is much more interesting when we don’t know where it is going or why this babysitter is deciding to do random things like accentuate a teenager’s hormones by having him fetch her a tampon while she’s on the toilet, or have a live pet hamster fed to a python. Legitimately insane people are always more fascinating when there seemingly is no rhyme to their reason, especially considering Sarah Bolger plays the role so convincingly. The answers we get are satisfying, allowing us to come to understand the character a little bit more, but admittedly probably not fleshed out enough.
What’s nearly impossible to overlook however, is that once it’s clear what the babysitter is after, the reflexes in your mind instantaneously kick in shouting that literally none of her actions thus far have made any sense whatsoever in terms of assisting her in successfully accomplishing her nefarious deed. What that means is while the second half is transitioning into your standard home invasion flick of a child rising to the occasion and defending his family, you’re left not caring very much; the movie has abandoned all of the aspects that made it worthwhile up to that point. Inevitably, you lose the struggle to accept the illogical correlation between the babysitter’s actions and motivations, coming to the unfortunate conclusion that it is just bad writing. She’s a basket case, but clearly should be sane enough to understand she isn’t helping her situation.
It’s a shame too, considering that Emelie begins on a high note, depicting an abduction with an impressive single take far away shot; the kidnapping is unexpected and really just leaps out at the audience, forcing viewers to raise their guard in anticipation of what’s to come. From that moment early on, the initial perception is that a lot of thought went into both the script and filmmaking process of the movie, but again, as it goes on you realize all of the good stuff is front-loaded. There are most definitely scenes here to be found that I will not forget, and the performances from both Sarah Bolger and the child actors are worthy of praise, but it all just evaporates after the twist.
Up until a certain point, all of the terror found within is earned without resorting to cheap tactics. There isn’t even a single jump scare in the whole movie thankfully, but the violence is formulaic and bland. There really is no other simpler way to put it other than that the first half of Emelie uses the mental instability of the character to create dread and the general feeling that the children are not safe, before not knowing where to go next following a good twist. Exploring the character more somehow could have been a good start, along with her mysterious companion, who by the way, also takes up duties stalking the parents on their romantic anniversary dinner date night to keep tabs on when they will be coming home.
I really like the first half of Emelie; it’s gripping, tense, and filled with unforgettable scenes and fantastic acting across the board. Everything after the twist is the polar opposite of that, and also highlights unforgivable flaws.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
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