2015, Sarah Bolger, Joshua Rush,
A married couple hire a babysitter to watch their 3 children while they go out for an anniversary meal. The regular sitter is unavailable so they call upon the shy and reserved Emelie, little do they know that things will take a sinister turn once the children are left in her care...
Emelie is far from an original premise, however the film's strength lies in how that particular premise is executed. Right from the outset the viewer is put on edge, with Emelie's subtly increasing cruelty and a claustrophobic atmosphere the film grips you an doesn't let go.
A significant factor to the increase in tension is the fact that the danger is happening to children, this isn't a bunch of reckless college kids that messed with the wrong girl. The 3 children are a range of ages with the oldest being in his early teens. Emelie exacts acts of psychological cruelty to each child but in such a way that they don't really know its happening until after their ordeal. These acts gradually ramped up as the story progressed. We learn later on that these acts of cruelty are not just random, they are in fact tests for a much large more disturbing scheme. In one scene the oldest child catches Emelie on the toilet and is asked to open a tampon and hand it to her. Although this was such a simple scene it was like watching the build up to a murder, he was out of his comfort zone, embarrassed and vulnerable yet she revelled from it. These mind games were gripping if not frightening to watch.
These scenes are extremely effective because they relied on the naivety and innocence of childhood. The children complied because they had been taught to obey adults, they did these acts without question and even when they had doubts they were promptly pulled back into line.
The character of Emelie was surprisingly fleshed out which in sometimes quite rare within the horror genre. She had an interesting and dark back story which made her intentions realistic but certainly not any less disturbing. Emelie was a villain you could almost sympathise with, she was doing these horrific acts for a very dark but real reasons. The film portrayed her as very human and a villain some people may even be able to relate to which truly an alarming feat.
Emelie is a tense, well paced and claustrophobic horror thriller. With care and attention taken to flesh out key characters, the film shines in a crowded sub genre.