31st Aug2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘Emelie’ Review

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Sarah Bolger, Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, Carl Bailey, Thomas Bair | Written by Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck | Directed by Michael Thelin

emelie-1

Whether it’s trashing the house, raiding the fridge or having guests over partaking in substances and acts that they shouldn’t really be doing, we have all heard those babysitter horror stories. Well, this particular story well and truly takes the cake. When their original babysitter can’t make it, the Thompson’s depend on her friend Anna (Sarah Bolger, The Lazarus Effect) to look after their children as they celebrate their anniversary. The thing is, Anna isn’t who she says she is. Her real name is Emilie and she’s going to give the Thompson’s and their children a night they will never forget. What starts off as innocent enough mischief turns in to a dark, cruel, emotionally and physically destroying series of events.

For the most part, Emelie is a solid and disturbing piece of psychological horror. Sarah Bolger’s portrayal as the disturbed babysitter is a believable one, if not a tiny bit cliché at times. At her best she is cold and plays it subtle. At her worst (for lack of a better term) she overplays it. Thankfully, the good out-weighs the bad. Speaking of good, we have some very promising future stars within the films young cast. All children involved put in a fantastic performance and even though children in cinema can be flat out annoying at times, the pain and sadness in their eyes as well as their confusion as to why they’re being abused makes the audience genuinely sympathise and wish for the best. Joshua Rush (Mr. Peabody & Sherman) is the stand out performance as the oldest brother Jacob. He is resourceful and wants to do what he can to save his younger siblings. Seeing him in the many stand offs with Emilie makes us rally for him even more.

Storywise Emelie is simple enough, with a reveal and twist here and there that are both surprising and predictable. The real negative for me in terms of story is there could have been more with Emelie’s back story and her reasoning. Some could argue what we do get is enough, but I just feel there could have been more and it could have been revealed much more slowly throughout. Aside from a rather uninspired synth score (now that’s a trend I am beginning to hate), the film is aesthetically pleasing with some wonderful cinematography.

Overall, I enjoyed Emelie. It was a solid effort all round, but it didn’t really do anything we haven’t seen before. That in itself is not a bad thing, because there is genuine tension throughout and for a feature length debut, Michael Thelin (Re: Vision) should be very proud of what he has created. This is a film that I am sure will create a buzz upon full release.

***½  3.5/5

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