The home invasion movie has long been a staple of horror cinema and, with Emelie, director Michael Thelin takes a logical step to the dangerous babysitter.
Parents, Dan (Chris Beetem) and Joyce (Susan Pourfar), are treating themselves to an evening meal alone to celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary. Their regular babysitter is unavailable, but she points them in the direction of her trusted friend, Anna (Sarah Bolger). But, when the parents leave, the eldest child, 11-year-old Jake (Joshua Rush), soon starts to suspect that something may be up with their new sitter.
It’s a novel set-up, and one that delivers a number of effectively uncomfortable scenes as Anna’s behaviour gets increasingly sinister. There are some really messed up moments, played with real confidence by Bolger and the three children (Rush, Carly Adams and Thomas Bair).
That doesn’t, however, quite make up for the fact that the primary arc plays out exactly as one might expect. If anything, the reveal that Anna’s ulterior motive is firmly rooted in the real world elicits shrugs rather than gasps. Like The Visit before it, I would have appreciated some sort of supernatural explanation over the grounded revelation we’re given.
Which is strange, I’ll admit, because the chilly realism elsewhere is a real draw. But the intertwining of that with an otherworldly thread would have arguably proved more satisfying. In the end, the explanation we’re given may have sufficed, if only more time had been given to a brief, but appealing, Home Alone/Straw Dogs sequence.
Thelin is more confident with the visuals and he utilises a series of eerie slasher-esque POV long shots. They capture the sense of suburban threat in an instant, and leave us unsure about the identity of the watcher or the watched.
Emelie is well made, and I anticipate interesting things from Thelin in the future, but it just plays too obvious to generate any lasting surprise.
Emelie is out now on DVD via FrightFest Presents.
Screener and images courtesy of Fetch Publicity. Thank you!