Have you ever watched a movie that isn’t quite horrific, but it still makes shift in your seat? Well, that perfectly describes Michael Thelin’s psychological thriller Emelie.
The film takes place on Dan and Joyce’s anniversary. They decide to celebrate by going out to dinner. Their usual babysitter has plans of her own, so they hire a girl they don’t know that is friends with their babysitter. Fortunately for Dan and Joyce, Emelie seems sweet and innocent and is ready to babysit. In front of Dan and Joyce, Emelie seems like a caring sitter for their three kids: Jake (11), Sally (9) and Christopher (4). When Dan and Joyce leave their kids with Emelie, things go from fun to bizarre to plain awful.
From the moment the film starts, the director provides the viewer with the impression that bad things are about to go down. The film’s tone is clear and from the beginning and it never pretends to be something it’s not. It never tries to take on too much; instead, Emelie chooses to deliver a high level of tension but it remains somewhat reserved in terms of what it actually shows. There aren’t torture sequences or buckets of blood; however, there are sequences that will make you quite uncomfortable. Emelie is one of the best thrillers I’ve seen in terms of ratcheting up the tension and never letting up. Clearly the performances helped Emelie along the way; however, the director’s clean approach really delivers a high level of intensity.
Emelie is terribly unstable and it is amazing to see her psychosis unfold. Her character works as a subtle yet daunting examination of a troubled babysitter. She is far more than a two-dimensional character driven by lunacy. Early in the film, Emelie tells the kids they can be anything they want if they pretend. Not only does that hint at pure havoc, but it sets the tone for her character. Actress Sarah Bolger (The Lazarus Effect) who plays the titular character is an amazing actress, showing both her character’s tender side along with her sadistic side. The three kids also did a terrific job. It was easy to believe that they were all siblings.
My only concern about Emelie is that there is a lack of explanation in regards to what makes its titular character tick. The viewer is left with so many questions; unanswered questions about the film’s primary character. If there were a few tweaks to the story and a bit more revealed about the character’s motivations, it would have been that much better. Emelie is not a film that will give you nightmares or make you afraid to go the bathroom, but it is sinister enough to give you some good chills.
Overall, Emelie is twisted and very enjoyable. It’s not terribly original, but it maintains tension and thoroughly succeeds at entertaining its audience. I had a tough time reviewing it because it’s best to go in as cold as possible and I didn’t want to give anything away. It would be way too easy for me to list all the outrageous things Emelie does; however, I want you to discover the depths of her depravity when you check out the film. You’re welcome!