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Emelie (Movie Review)

Emelie (Movie Review)
03.03.2016by: Eric Walkuski
5 10

 

PLOT: Heading out for a night on the town, the Thompsons need a babysitter to look after their three young children. Anna comes highly recommended, and indeed she seems like a sweet, likable girl. But unbeknownst to the Thompsons, this isn't Anna, this is Emelie, and Emelie is neither sweet, nor likable.

REVIEW: Does the "babysitter from hell" subgenre have any blood in its veins at this point? When it comes to EMELIE, its vitals aren't looking good. The film does present a fairly interesting villainous and a handful of creepy sequences, but at the end of the day it doesn't distinguish itself enough to be considered memorable. If anything, it's an 80 minute diversion that's maybe one step above a Lifetime Movie Of The Week.

 

Sarah Bolger gives a persuasive performance as Anna (that's how she's introduced anyway) a quiet, seemingly shy girl-next-door who's hired by the Thompsons to look after their three children while they go celebrate their anniversary. Anna comes recommended by a family friend, but an opening sequence showing the kidnapping of a teenage girl alerts the audience to the fact that this Anna is not the one the Thompsons are prepared for. That, and right off the bat there's something slightly off about the girl - not that either parent notices. Leave it to young Jacob (Joshua Rush) to sense something is amiss with Anna, although the babysitter's oddly sensual body language eventually distracts the youngster. As for Jacob's younger siblings, Sally (Carly Adams) and Christopher (Thomas Bair), they're enamored with Anna's do-whatever-you-want policy, which includes dressing up, eating and drinking all the sugar they want, and drawing on the walls of the living room.

Soon, Anna's idea of fun begins to appear a little deranged. Sex tapes and animal abuse, anyone? Jacob realizes his early suspicions were correct and attempts to thwart Anna's increasingly disturbing behavior, but the cracked babysitter's actually on a mission. Just why she's so bizarre is revealed in a fairly predictable manner, as is her ultimate endgame. And what started off as a pretty unnerving little thriller becomes a rather standard cat-and-mouse game between the suddenly resourceful Jacob and psycho Anna (who, you may have guessed, is actually named Emelie).  

 

Before it goes off the rails, though, EMELIE grabs attention with a few very off-putting - but undeniably effective - scenes displaying Anna/Emelie's sadistic side, including one where she forces the children to watch one family pet kill another. Yeah, this gal's got a seriously warped idea of what constitutes strong life lessons for the kiddies. Sadly, the movie's explanation as to why she's so bonkers is too simplistic. Emelie had a traumatic experience that would damage anyone, but why does it force her to become evil as well? EMELIE's screenplay skirts past a viable explanation with a couple of brief lines, clearly hoping that the audience will just accept it and move on, but for me, I would have rather they delved further into Emelie's insanity - or not attempted to explain it at all. Sometimes no explanation is scarier than a vague one.

Despite becoming very routine and negating some of the good will that came before, EMELIE manages to hold your attention. That's mostly thanks to the performances from Bolger and Rush, as the two play off each other convincingly and build an agreeable amount of tension between them. It's a shame the movie's screenplay betrays them in the third act with a series of rote, unconvincing plot contrivances. EMELIE makes a small impression, but it doesn't last very long

Extra Tidbit: EMELIE hits VOD and limited theaters on March 4th.

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