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Emelie (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 28, 2020



EMELIE (2016)

Starring Sarah Bolger, Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Susan Pourfar, Frank Rossi, Dante Hoagland, Elizabeth Jayne, Randi Langdon, Chris Beetem, Carl Bailey, Brian Mysliwy, Doreen Donovan Corkin, Daniel James, Michael Joseph Dugan, Sara Kow-Falcone and Robert Bozek.

Screenplay by Rich Herbeck.

Directed by Michael Thelin.

Distributed by Dark Sky Films.  80 minutes.  Rated R.

Emelie is a parents’ worst nightmare made real: What if the babysitter tasked with keeping your children safe turns out to be a sadistic and deranged maniac?

It’s an interesting idea for a horror film.  Director Michael Thelin smartly has a tendency to go more for suspense and extreme unease rather than graphic horror.  Irish actress Sarah Bolger – fondly recalled by many filmmakers for her role as a young immigrant girl in the acclaimed drama In America – certainly does a chillingly amoral job as this babysitter from hell.

Well, she’s not a babysitter, actually, unbeknownst to the harried mid-30s couple (Susan Pourfar and Frank Rossi) who decide to take a romantic night out without their three young children – young teen Jake (Joshua Rush), middle daughter Sally (Carly Adams) and the youngest son Christopher (Thomas Bair).  Their normal babysitter Maggie (Elizabeth Jayne) can’t babysit, so she suggests a friend named Anna (Randi Langdon).

In a brief out-of-context preamble, we glance Emelie (Bolger) and a male accomplice kidnap the teen.  Then Emelie shows up at the house, claiming to be Anna.  At first she seems to be the perfect babysitter – cute, fun, a little wild, willing to let the kids get away with things, feeding them lots of crap, teasing the oldest – but slowly but surely Emelie’s behavior becomes disturbing.  She becomes antagonistic, first towards the daughter and then the older son.  She rifles through the house.  She leaves the family gun out.  She teases the oldest son sexually.  She tells creepy stories.  And she is obviously becoming more and more erratically attached to the youngest son.

It is an interesting idea for a horror film, yet the movie crosses some lines here.  The psychological horror goes a bit out of bounds – particularly mean tricks with the daughter’s pet hamster and the parents’ private sex video – that make the audience feel a little slimy just for watching.

There are also a lot of plot holes here.  You never know how Emelie knew about this specific family needing a babysitter, or why if she wanted to grab the little boy she didn’t just leave with him right away rather than mentally torture the other two kids.  For that matter, why pick a family with three kids when she only wanted one?  Why would the parents leave their kids with a babysitter that they had never met, spoken with, or even seen?  And was Emelie’s accomplice really so cracked that he’d risk dying an extremely painful death just to buy Emelie a few extra minutes?

Still, the first 50 minutes or so of Emelie is genuinely chilling, before the movie downshifts into some much more standard horror film tropes.  It’s not completely successful as a horror film, but it is a good deal better than it may have been.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: March 4, 2016.

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