Remember that babysitter growing up that was sweet and nice when your parents were around but turned into a mega-bitch bully the second they walked out the front door? Well Emelie (Michael Thelin, 2015) is that girl times ten.
In Thelin’s feature narrative debut (he normally does live shows and musician interviews according to his IMDB), a mid 30’s couple are trying to celebrate their thirteen-year-anniversary by going out for some fancy feast but the usual babysitter won’t pick up her cell phone. The father, Dan (Chris Beetem, One Life To Live), even makes a slightly inappropriate comment about how she’s been less reliable since she got her braces off (was he making a blow job slut shaming reference or was I reading into it?). So instead they hire Anna, a friend of their usual sitter. Or at least they thought so…it turns out Anna has actually been kidnapped (it happens in the opening shot so don’t start crying “spoiler” on me) and Emelie (Sarah Bolger, Once Upon a Time, The Lazarus Effect) steps in to impersonate her. Once the parents leave she subjects the three children (Ages 10, 8 and 4) to a series of twisted and wildly inappropriate activities. But why?
That’s the fun part about this movie. The entire time you’re trying to figure out why this bitch is doing what she’s doing (and she does a lot). My mind was racing with possibilities from pissed off mistress, to revenge because you drunkenly hit my kid in a car so now I’m gonna kill yours, to babysnatching and beyond. They don’t really clue you in until 75% of the way through the film but it’s creepy AF when they do (she reads the youngest, Christopher, a “bedtime story” complete with freaky, scratchy, illustrations and graphic images). Leading up to that point, however, Emelie (still under the guise of Anna) begins to play her reindeer games.
It starts out light with a little allotted misbehavior. For example, the oldest, Jacob (Joshua Rush, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, The Lion Guard) licks an entire box of cookies to piss his sister, Sally, off and Emelie forces him to eat the entire box. When he asks for milk she says “not until you finish your cookies” and stares into his soul. It’s little moments like this where the subtle sadism shines through via Bolger’s superb acting. The way she and the score are able to convey a sense of longing dread and mystery with just the tone or inflection of a voice is truly remarkable. This movie is filled with awkward and uncomfortable moments that would get any babysitter fired (if not arrested).
*SPOILERS BE NEAR* I’m about to discuss the further acts of depravity Emelie subjects the children too. I will not reveal why she is there but I am going to touch on a few of the fucked up things she did while being there. So if you’d like to remain in the dark because you’re planning to view it (in the dark, which I recommend you do), then scroll down until you see *spoilers be over* in bold or if you’re already convinced/bored then straight to the bottom to view my rating and how it stacks up to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re intrigued by what kind of shenanigans an evil babysitter can get into then keep reading because she does some shady shit.
Like changing her tampon in front of the 10-year-old, Jacob. While playing a game of hide and go seek (or in Emelie’s case, hide and go rummage through other people’s shit), Jacob walks in on Emelie on the toilet. She has this super awkward conversation with him then asks him where his mom keeps the tampons. Then she makes him grab her one, open it, and I swear I totally thought she was gonna make him put it in but that didn’t happen and now I feel like a perv (it’s okay though because Jacob stares at the period blood water as it circles down the drain so I don’t feel as bad). But it was supes inappropes. Then later on, she feeds the little girl, Sally’s, pet hamster to Jacob’s ball python and forces them all to watch and forbids them to look away. Sally starts crying and it’s real unsettling. But my favorite (and obviously the most fucked up part) is when she puts on a homemade amateur porn VHS the kids’ parents had made and makes the two youngest watch it with her. Bitch is cray.
*SPOILERS BE OVER*
So what makes this movie stand out from the others? It’s delicate and creeping pace. As I said, it begins as a slow burn but by the time you get to the end you can really feel the anxiety and fear that every single character is experiencing, including Emelie (she’s gotta finish her plan before the rents return). Also, the acting was pretty above par (Bolger being the obvious standout followed by Rush). All three child actors (Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, and Thomas Bair) gave adequate performances and I am especially impressed by Adams’ for being her first and only credit on IMDB thus far.
If you wanna be bombarded by violence, gore, and action, Emelie probably isn’t the movie for you tonight. But if you enjoy attenuated titillation and more of a refined horror concept, this movie is the perfect popcorn pop-in. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat anticipating every single act of understated horror and depravity.
IMDB: 5.4/10 (4,224 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 🍅92% 🍿49% (⬅these folks do not understand nor appreciate delicate horror)
DEAD🐶PUPPY: 3 spiked bottles of Hawaiian Punch/5