Directed by Michael Thelin.
Starring Sarah Bolger, Carly Adams, Carl Bailey, Thomas Bair, Chris Beetem, Elizabeth Jayne, Sarah Poufar, Joshua Rush.
A last minute replacement babysitter turns out not to be who she says she is when a couple leave their three children in her care.
Released as part of Icon Home Entertainment’s ‘FrightFest Presents…’ range, Emelie reignites the old ‘babysitter from hell’ genre that we have seen in many movies before but not in anything recent, so is it time for a comeback for a style of film that, when done correctly, offers up some real-life scares, especially if you’re a parent?
Could be, although it’s debateable whether Emelie is the movie to do it, despite the fact that it does manage to create some genuine tension before unravelling for an unspectacular ending that could have made the all the difference. However, for the most part Emelie is a taut little thriller that begins on an incident of wrongdoing and rolls along with an air of mystery and intrigue that escalates into Home Alone-style booby trap violence that probably could have gone a bit further than it did. Thanks to a central performance from Sarah Bolger as Anna (or is she…?), the babysitter that Dan (Chris Beetem) and Joyce (Sarah Poufar) Thompson think is their regular babysitter’s best friend, the film does succeed in setting up a nightmare situation that is believable and, in places, quite upsetting.
Unusually for a film that relies on the child actors to hold your attention, the three Thompson children do a fine job and don’t become an annoyance like child characters normally do. Some sly writing lets you know early on what the three children are like – Jake (Joshua Rush) is the oldest child, on the cusp of puberty and beginning to rebel, Sally (Carly Adams) is the only girl and looks to her mother for stability and Christopher (Thomas Bair) is hyperactive and easily led – and any parents watching this will see the dangers and situations coming a mile off, watching helplessly as Anna forces the children to watch Dan’s pet snake kill the family hamster or putting on Dan and Joyce’s private sex tape for the children to watch. This is when young Joshua Rush begins to steal a little of Sarah Bolger’s thunder in the performance stakes as Jake realises that what she is doing is wrong and steps up to protect his siblings. Read between the lines during these scenes and the metaphors for coming of age are there in abundance.
But the problem with Emelie is that the clever writing that helped to build up the characters and story doesn’t remain consistent throughout and as the film goes into its final run it seems to fall apart, never really delving into Anna’s psyche and providing any sort of explanation other than the simplistic and obvious answer that is casually dropped in without any sense of significance. You could argue that her actions don’t really need an explanation and she is just a damaged person but the setup and way the character acts are obviously meant to represent a deeper trouble than just somebody being bad, and considering the analogies that can be extracted from what we have already seen it’s a bit of a copout to offer the brief explanation that we get rather than flesh out the character a bit more. Nevertheless, despite the unsatisfactory ending Emelie does provide a decent amount of suspense for the first two acts and as it only runs for 78 minutes it’s not a huge time investment, just a mildly frustrating one once it finishes.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★