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Emelie Review

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Sarah Bolger is the perfect evil babysitter in this horror film.

Every parent will tell you that the idea of something terrible happening to their child is one of their worst fears. From injuries to kidnapping to death, these are the sorts of things that keep parents up at night. Movies then that focus on crazy babysitters who are out to somehow cause injury to a minor play directly to fears of adults and kids alike. This gives the Michael Thelin directed Emelie a leg up on other horror competition, but it’s isn’t an advantage the film is always able to cash in on.

The movie stars Sarah Bolger as Emelie, although when the audience first meets her she is going by Anna. This is because Anna is the name of the babysitter Emelie and her co-conspirator have kidnapped so that Emelie can sit for the Thompson children, Jacob (Joshua Rush), Sally (Carly Adams), and Christopher (Thomas Bair). In fact, the movie opens with the kidnapping and it sets up all the dread that is to follow with some skill.

From these first moments continuing throughout its entire run, Emelie excels at offering a great, tension-filled, atmosphere. Regularly, the camera acts as an interloper, whether it’s inside the Thompson house as things go downhill, or watching the parents, Joyce (Susan Pourfar) and Dan (Chris Beetem), as they are out at their anniversary dinner. There are definitely moments when slightly brighter lighting would have increased the dread as some scenes are hard to make out, but the fear still exists in the shadows.

If one went by atmosphere alone, Emelie would be a homerun. Bolger carries the movie, oozing a sense of evil that is barely concealed under a seemingly benign surface. As that surface is stripped away, the character never goes too broad, maintaining a close to realistic feel even as her plan unfolds.

As constructed, however, that plan feels just a little silly and the attempts of Jacob, the oldest child, to thwart Emelie are equally foolish. Some of these moments could hypothetically be defended by arguing that of course Jacob’s attempts to stop the evil babysitter aren’t great, he’s 11, while obviously her plan is less than intelligent, as she even notes in the film, she’s “cracked.”