Pretending is this superpower that we all have. When we pretend we can be anybody that we want to be!
I am currently trying to work through my “Films I Want to Watch” playlist on Youtube and it brings me to “Emelie”, a film about an unusual babysitter. I’m all up for films that look like they have potential to be dark and twisted, but I don’t get that with this film.
There is just something that seems to be missing. I can’t put my finger on it but there is something not quite right when I watch the trailer, and whilst it peaked my interest enough for me to want to watch it, I’m not expecting this to be a good film, or even remotely decent.
I could be wrong, it has been known to happen, but this is one where I think I’m pretty safe….
Anna (Bolger) is hired by Dan (Beetem) to babysit his kids for the evening so that he and his wife can celebrate their anniversary. Everything seems fine at first before Jacob (Rush) starts noticing that she doesn’t behave like a normal babysitter, purposefully going out of her way to make the kids uncomfortable, such as asking him to hand her a fresh tampon. He soon discovers ID that says her name is Emelie, and not Anna.
The evening continues to get more and more disturbed as she feeds the family’s hamster to the snake, forces the kids to watch their parents having sex, and everything that arouses their suspicions that something isn’t right.
She soon tells the youngest of the children, Chris (Bair), a story about how she previously had a baby that died, and now her and her lover are basically looking for a new child to have, all disguised as a story about bears. It becomes obvious to Jacob what is happening, but can the actual Anna turning up change the evening back in the children’s favour?
Decent or a missed opportunity?
I would say that this falls directly into the latter of those two as, whilst there are elements of “Emelie” that are generally well done, ultimately it’s 82 minutes of pure and utter “meh”.
Let’s start with the bit I did actually like and the part where you learn why Emelie is doing what she is doing. There is nothing more that I love in films than an antagonist that you can understand, and that you understand where they’re coming from. For example, one of my biggest issues with the Marvel franchise is that the antagonists are usually a bit crap, and yet in the latest installment, “Civil War”, I found myself impressed by the antagonist because you understand his motivations wonderfully, and he actually succeeds in what he wants to do.
My point is that if you want a great film, you have to start with a great antagonist, however, other than her motivations being made clear, there isn’t really a lot going on with the character. The acting for her is fine, but she is such a forgettable antagonist that it’s hard to get truly invested in the story, or indeed anything relating to her. There is only one part of the character that disturbed me and that is when she bizarrely asks Jacob to find her a tampon, which is something very odd indeed.
She’s not alone in poor character writing though, with the character of Sally being horrendously written and mind numbingly awful. Okay, we get it, she likes being a girl and wants to do girly things, but seriously, can we have a secondary character trait?
Then we get onto a strange decision regarding the characters and that is Emelie’s lover. SPOILER ALERT : When Emelie knows that she won’t get everything set up in time before the parents get home, she says to her lover than she needs more time. He subsequently dies after ramming their taxi……but there’s no emotional impact there at all. The character isn’t even slightly developed and now, nearly an hour after the film had finished, I couldn’t even tell you the character’s name. In reality, how can I be expected to care about such a character?
One of the main problems for me is that this film had the potential to be very good, but it simply isn’t dark enough. There’s nothing that scary about a girl cutting off a family’s broadband and electricity, especially when one of them relatively easily escapes later on in the film.
Whilst I was never bored during the 82 minute run time, it wasn’t really that interesting and never felt like it was getting out of second gear.
“Emelie” isn’t an awful film and whilst you understand where the central character’s motivations come from, it’s just not overly interesting.
With a lot of one dimensional characters, it’s hard to really get invested in the plight of the kids and want them to survive, especially as one of them is exceptionally irritating. If anything, I’m a little disappointed (spoiler) that none of the main characters die, and more importantly, that Emelie doesn’t really get a commupence.
This is a missed opportunity.