There have been a string of really unique and creative home invasion films over the past few years. Movies including You’re Next, The Aggression Scale, and more recently Intruders and Hush have really livened up the sub-genre, making it an exciting experience every time. Luckily for fans of this style of horror, there continue to be more up and coming filmmakers who decide to take a stab at it. First-time feature director, Michael Thelin has done just that with Emelie.
Dan (Chris Beetem) and Joyce (Susan Pourfar) are going out to dinner for their 13th wedding anniversary. Because their go-to babysitter is busy for the night, they have trusted their three children to be taken care of by a new sitter, a stranger to them. Anna (Sarah Bolger, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Lazarus Effect) shows up and the couple go on their merry way, but eleven-year-old Jacob (Joshua Rush) and his siblings soon find out that their new caregiver is not as fun as they initially believed and in fact is actually someone else entirely…
Emelie can be considered tame by today’s standards of horror film making. The involvement of three young children, however, automatically intensifies the intimate situation drastically. Leaving your children in the care of a stranger is actually a situation more frightening than most people actually give thought to. In an age where there is really no privacy anymore, with an ever-increasing use of social media and services like Uber, we interact with strangers daily and don’t think twice about it. This makes the premise of Thelin’s film all that more authentic and, in turn, terrifying.
Children in horror is a touchy subject for many. Either the children play the role of the antagonist(s) (i.e. Children of the Corn), which is downright creepy, or they are the ones being victimized. That’s where the cause for concern comes into play. While Emelie touches on this sore spot more than just a little, it is still done tastefully enough to not piss off the entirety of its audience. Yes, some people will be bothered by the film, but I believe the message being delivered is certainly one that most people, surely any parent, can relate to and should be exposed to.
While the thought of perhaps your own children being subject to a stranger is cause for concern and even anger, there is more going on here than just that. There is a great deal of character development created throughout the film and writer, Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck, also working on his first feature-length project, has created a tragic back story to give a further look into Emelie aka Anna’s motive(s). The events of this broken woman’s past does not excuse her acts, but it does bring a great amount of humanity to the character, making the situation more relatable to some.
Herbeck’s script is not the only thing to praise here; Everything about this low-budget, contained horror film is top-notch quality. From the lighting to the superb acting from all parties, including the young children, Emelie gets it right. There are plenty of home invasion films to choose from in the vast library of the horror genre, but surprisingly, none are quite like what Thelin and his crew have presented here.
I’m not sure what I expected from the film’s end, but I am glad with what I received. Although there really isn’t a true ending to the volatile situation, the lack of finality is perfect in the case of Emelie. The audience is left to their devices, creating whatever ending they’d like for not only Emelie herself, but the young family, as well. Personally, I feel that the family has a very difficult hard time ahead of them and those poor children may never be the same again after a few of the things the young sitter put them through.
If you like originality in your horror and support new filmmakers breaking into the genre, I can’t recommend this film enough. Be sure to pick up a copy of Emelie on Blu-ray, DVD, or Digital Download this Tuesday, May 3rd, from Dark Sky Films.
I give it 4 hamsters named Admiral Wubbles out of 5.