The psycho horror sub-genre has delivered numerous stabs over the years, normally with the incentive to cash-in on a popular predecessor, yet surprisingly very few of them have featured deadly babysitters. Marilyn Monroe played the lethal Nell Forbes in DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK in 1952 while Bette Davies starred in THE NANNY eleven years later in 1965. But it’s not since Rebecca De Mornay made an impact at the box office with THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CABLE in 1992 that such a flagrant screen psycho was last seen taking care of our kids.

With that in mind, Director Michael Thelin’s EMELIE has an even more novel concept than initially appears. Thelin utilises a mumblecore approach when capturing the Thompson family in the early scenes as mum and dad (Susan Pourfar and Chris Beetem) prepare for an evening out while the children run amuck around them. The first act expertly establishes the main characters in an endearing, entertaining manner before the tension unravels and Thelin wisely presents the children as playful and sweet but never overly grating.

Emelie

As the usual babysitter is busy, the Thompsons contact Anna: a recommended friend of their regular who seems to be a suitable alternative. But things are naturally not what they seem and Anna’s true nature slowly comes to light. Soon the eldest child notices she’s a tad crackers and things take a turn for the terrifying.

Thelin skilfully raises discomfort by teasing out Anna’s true temperament through the increasingly questionable acts that mount in impudence through the course of the evening. Forcing the viewer to deconstruct Anna, engages them at a visceral level which, when combined with the realistic and likeable characters, makes the later suspense scenes more effective. These moments are also aided by incredible performance, notably from Sarah Bolger as Anna alongside Carly Adams and Thomas Bair as the children.

Emelie wavers slightly in its latter half as passé stalk and slash scenarios unravel. While the tension remains effective you can’t help wonder why that similar level of innovation employed within the first two acts, couldn’t have been used when crafting the resolution. But these skits and slightly botched camerawork do little to hamper what is otherwise an astonishingly tense and (for the most) original thriller. Not only could EMELIE feasibly start a spate of similar psycho babysitter knock-offs if successful but it is also a great deal more interesting than most of its sub-genre predecessors.

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Emelie
Previous articleNo Escape Review
Next articleThe Transporter Refuelled Review
Daniel Goodwin is a prevalent film writer for multiple websites including HeyUGuys, Scream Horror Magazine, Little White Lies, i-D and Dazed. After studying Film, Media and Cultural Studies at university and Creative Writing at the London School of Journalism, Daniel went on to work in TV production for Hat Trick Productions, So Television and The London Studios. He has also worked at the Home Office, in the private office of Hilary Benn MP and the Coroner's and Burials Department, as well as on the Movies on Pay TV market investigation for the Competition Commission.