M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on March 4, 2016. Available on DVD, BluRay, and On Demand from Dark Sky Films! Also streaming on Netflix!
Directed by Michael Thelin
Written by Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck & Michael Thelin
Starring Sarah Bolger, Chris Beetem, Susan Pourfar, Joshua Rush, Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Dante Hoagland, Elizabeth Jayne, Randi Langdon
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
A few narrative missteps keep EMELIE from being an absolutely perfect thriller, but even with those stumbles, it’s a damn fine piece of squirm-inducing cinema!
Emelie (THE MOTH DIARIES’ Sarah Bolger) seems to be a perfectly nice and competent babysitter, but as soon as parents Dan and Joyce Thompson (Chris Beetem and Susan Pourfar) leave their three kids (Jacob – Joshua Rush, Sally – Carly Adams, and little Christopher – Thomas Bair) alone with her, it’s quite obvious that this innocent waif is not what she seems, and as the Thompsons have an enjoyable anniversary dinner it becomes apparent that the well-being of the children is the furthest thing from Emelie’s intentions.
Despite a few logical stumbles, I loved this film. Sarah Bolger is amazing as the worst babysitter you could ever imagine, putting the children on the frontline of danger as well as having devious intentions for them. Seeing Emelie take great pleasure in letting the children acting out, doing things they shouldn’t, and abusing them in cringe-worthy ways is something that will definitely cause unease for those with or without children. EMELIE goes there in terms of pushing the taboo subject matter in terms of the type of abuse Emelie unleashes upon the young children in her care. And while the scenes where one of the kid’s pets is given to another pet to eat is something that made me squirm beyond belief, I have to give this film credit for going to places that most are afraid to dare. The videotape scene alone is enough to unsettle most folks, but the fact that Emelie seems to get off on psychologically torturing those she is looking after makes the film a ballsy surprise.
***SPOILER ***Still, there are huge holes in EMELIE as she doles out some sleep-inducing drugs to the children late in the game in order to fulfill her devious goals. Aside from making things interesting to fulfill the feature length runtime, there is no reason why Emelie wouldn’t have drugged the children immediately in order to attain her evil goal. Having her drug the children in the final act just makes it more evident that this is a film needing a final act hurdle to leap. I understand why the filmmakers decided to do this, but within the logic of the movie, it would have been much easier for our very evil babysitter to do this immediately instead of time it so that it ramps up the tension while the parents are on their way home in a dore version of FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF sort of way. As is, within the movie Emelie seems to enjoy tormenting the kids a little bit too much and gets sidetracked from her real motivation. A fair revelation about the character, but one that shows a big flaw in her plans.***END SPOILER***
But despite this one flaw, this is a damn suspenseful, completely unnerving, and totally wicked little film that I loved quite a bit. Sarah Bolger delivers a star-making turn as the evil nanny and the child actors are actually very talented, as director Michael Thelin gets some realistic performances out of them. EMELIE goes to dark places, and you’re definitely going to be made to feel uncomfortable in a scene or two. This babysitter will make you never want to leave your kids with anyone ever again. I’m willing to look past some iffy late in the game decisions due to the quality of the performances and the sheer size of cojones this film has. EMELIE is a film I definitely recommend to lovers of tense, wicked, real life horror.
THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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