Director: Michael Thelin
Cast: Sarah Bolger, Carly Adams, Robert Bozek, Thomas Bair, Chris Beetem
Running Time: 80 minutes
Can one troubling scene really turn a possible masterpiece into a truly morally repugnant film? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself after coming out of the UK premiere of Michael Thelin’s scarily intense psychological thriller EMELIE. Having grown up in the age of the video nasties era I already know the answer. While the period is known for scraping the bottom of the barrel, there are a controversial few which broke the mould to remain memorable and become real classics despite content that had us squirming in our seats.
While I’m not going to discuss which scene disturbed me, something I’ll let you decide should you dare see what EMELIE has to offer, the fact the film involves children and a psychotic babysitter should give you a tiny clue. Perhaps it’s the fact I have a five-year-old daughter that the scene in question has affected me in such a way. Personally, I believe the scene to be unnecessary and the film would still work without it, but there it is.
That being said, director Thelin’s ratcheting up of tension from the first frame to the last means, thanks to a fantastically unhinged performance from Sarah Bolger, we have one of the finest upcoming thrillers of many a year. That’s if you’re able to handle the sheer intensity because I counted at least three walkouts. This from a festival screening known for its extremities.
It’s a basic premise but superbly realised and rounded with the Thompson family finding their usual babysitter unavailable. Desperate for a rare night out to celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary, Mom and Dad turn to Facebook and find a late replacement in likeable Emelie. Once the parents leave, Emelie’s smile disappears, each passing minute reveals her true intentions and her mysterious motivation for choosing the Thompsons comes to the fore.
As much of a problem I had with EMELIE, it hits a raw nerve because we know shocking events like this are reported daily. Disturbed and unstable souls charming their way into innocent homes, like it or not, happens. If you can survive EMELIE’s corkscrew ferocity, it’s a film that will stay with you for quite sometime. Either way, when she’s released early next year, EMELIE brings bad news for babysitters.