Emelie (2016)

emelie2016A couple’s replacement babysitter turns out to be more than they bargained for when she subjects their kids to a series of twisted activities.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before I came across a new movie to make uncomfortable, and here we are with Emelie. The movie opens with the kidnapping of a young girl, inexplicably, and then becomes the tale of an insane woman who (spoiler alert) uses baby sitting as a ruse to … steal a new baby. Her plan never really makes a whole lot of clear sense, but it’s clear what she wants in the end.

Director Michael Thelin, and writer Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck, have teamed up to give us this relatively mean-spirited, while also effectively unsettling movie. It is well directed, and pretty well shot, but the story does feel pretty heavy handed from time to time, and it feels like two story ideas that were pushed together to make one. Perhaps as two different shorts, as a babysitter who tortures her wards, and a babysitter out to steal herself a baby, the story would have worked in this way. Instead, the plan seems unnecessarily complicated and full of strange games, when she could have simply… drugged the children and run off. (Yeah, yeah.. I know, then there’s no movie, but the end result is stupid, so which is better?)

The strongest part of the film is Sarah Bolger (Once Upon a Time) in the role of Emelie, she is a strong and menacing force in the film, even if her character’s actions don’t make a ton of sense, she slips into the role very well. The three young children aren’t the strongest actors (though, that’s not really what I expect from children to be honest). Though, the movie does lean on the kids pretty heavily to give the movie its tension, and weight, rather than a strong script.

emelie_still

Therein lies the major problem with this movie. It is really an exercise in emotional manipulation, putting the kids into uncomfortable and upsetting situations and allowing that to be the extent of what is “scary” about it. Most of us don’t want to watch an adult urinate in front of a child and ask that child for a tampon, and so when that happens in front of us, it’s only natural that we would get uncomfortable. It’s a gross scene, but it’s not interesting or scary, it’s only gross and adds nothing to anything. It’s not even helpful in showing Emelie as a character. You also have a scene in which a young girl’s hamster is fed to a snake, again, this is just upsetting because the young girl is visibly upset, but it does nothing else.

If Emelie wanted a child for herself, then these games she plays serve very little purpose, and the result is a confusing movie with no real punch to it, except for those that it forces on you. A movie that uses children to make it more disturbing, not because they allow a richer story to be told.

All told, it’s not a strong movie, and not one that I would recommend. That said, I know there are some of you who will absolutely enjoy and it will tick all of your boxes. It’s competently shot and not a badly made movie, but it isn’t half as edgy as it seems, nor is it as interesting as it thinks.

MY RATING: **

 

 

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