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.
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.