Movie Review: Emelie (2016)
“I’m your new babysitter.”
Director: Michael Thelin
Cast: Sarah Bolger, Carly Adams, Carl Bailey
Synopsis: The sweet babysitter of three children isn’t all that she seems.
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Anna (Sarah Bolger – The Moth Diaries, The Lazarus Effect), the Thompson’s last-minute stand-in babysitter in Michael Thelin’s Emelie, seems like a nice enough girl. She’s pretty and polite, and she seems at ease with the three kids that parents Dan (Chris Beetem) and Joyce (Susan Pourfar) leave in her care while they enjoy a night out together to celebrate their wedding anniversary. She was also recommended by Maggie (Elizabeth Jayne), the Thompson’s usual babysitter, so they should be able to enjoy their night out without worrying about whether she’s reliable. However, we’re privy to information that the Thompsons are not: Anna is an impostor whose real name is Emelie, and she has the real Anna stashed in the boot of her car. Even worse, she has plans for one of the Thompson’s kids, and isn’t too worried if the other two end up as collateral damage while she carries out her plan.
Over the course of the evening, Emelie’s true nature seeps through the polite and patient exterior, although it takes a while for the kids to realise that she’s no ordinary babysitter. Jacob (Joshua Rush), the oldest, gets weird vibes when Emelie invites him into the bathroom to help her change her sanitary towel, but is initially a little too excited by the encounter to appreciate the inappropriateness of the sitter’s behaviour. Anna/Emelie is noticeably less friendly towards Sally (Carly Adams), the middle Thompson kid, but it’s only when the sitter encourages Christopher (Thomas Bair), the youngest, to feed Sally’s hamster to Jacob’s pet snake that her malevolent nature becomes apparent to the girl. Christopher, meanwhile, is too young to notice anything untoward about her, and enjoys the special attention she seems to pay him.
While Emelie isn’t without its problems, it does provide a fresh spin on the babysitter-in-peril scenario, and creates an agreeably unsettling atmosphere by playing on all adults’ natural fear of unwittingly leaving their children in the care of someone psychologically unbalanced. It also maintains suspense by withholding the sitter’s true intentions towards the children for as long as the plot will allow. Irish actress Sarah Bolger gives a finely balanced performance, convincingly portraying Emelie’s mood swings without descending into psycho hysterics. Unfortunately, the plot rapidly falls apart once Emelie’s intentions become clear. In fact, the film is littered with moments which, with hindsight, are improbable at best, but it’s a measure of Thelin’s confidence in his material that it’s only after the end credits roll that they become apparent.
(Reviewed 3rd September 2016)