I consider all movies a form of art. So I do my best to respect them, even if they do not jive with me. The other night, I decided to give 2015’s Emelie a watch. It had dynamic characters, a premise that has not been done before, and some well-shot scenes that leave the viewer wondering what the hell they just watched. But did it leave a lasting impression?
Directed by Michael Thelin, Emelie begins with Anna (Randi Langdon), who is on her way to babysit. Almost immediately, a car pulls up and someone grabs her. This allows for the psychotic Emelie (Sarah Bolger) to step in and steal Anna’s babysitting job. Dan (Chris Beetem) and Joyce (Susan Pourfar) already have their hands full with their three children: Jacob (Joshua Rush), Sally (Carly Adams), and Christopher (Thomas Bair). This family of five have no idea what they are in for when Emelie arrives and she tells the family that she is Anna. She instantly connects with the children leaving the parents with warm fuzzies. Feeling comfortable with their fabulous babysitter, Dan and Joyce leave for their anniversary date night. As the night goes on, we slowly learn how demented this babysitter really is.
All of the characters were amazing. Sarah Bolger was an excellent choice for the role of Emelie. She really understood how to develop her character. As the viewer, we have to realize that she is manipulating the minds of children. Bolger effortlessly accomplishes this, leaving us disturbed. The children don’t see between the lines at first or recognize any odd behaviors. Emelie is older, cooler, and the adult in charge. So naturally, that makes everything she says and does okay to go along with. All three of the children are solid actors as well. It is hard for me to pinpoint a favorite because they all did a good job. They emphasize the typical nature of siblings. They fight, they play, and they stick together when times get tough.
Along with the acting, there were some disturbing yet phenomenal scenes. I think this movie was definitely going for shock value. It does succeed in delivering on that front in a few places. One scene, in particular, Emelie pops in a film for the kids to watch. A few minutes in we find out it is an intimate situation filmed by their parents. Emelie acts as though they are watching a Disney film. Yes, the movie goes there. My jaw actually dropped at this moment because the children were so vulnerable. The scene is raw and very real. It is sad to know that things like this happen more often in the world than we even realize.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the story flattens like a pancake. The second half of the film becomes rushed causing the atmosphere created in the first half to become lost along the way. Sometimes I do not mind not knowing everything about the characters as it can be more creepy that way. With Emelie, however, I felt the need to know more about her. Was she just crazy? Has she always been crazy? The movie does delve into her backstory a tad, but it still didn’t explain my unanswered questions. The story seems incomplete, so I was left unfulfilled by the time the movie ended.
Emelie has left me sitting on the fence. On one side, this movie holds a lot of potential due to some pretty unsettling scenes and great acting. On the other side, the story falls flat and leaves me confused. While I did not love Emelie, I did not hate it either. Would I watch it again? Probably not. But, I will give credit to what the film does well and will try to make sense of what did not work for me. Watch it and let me know what you think!