Since I have a festival pass which allows me to watch all the movies anyway, I usually don’t inform myself that much about the movies that I’m going to see. I never watch any trailers, and only read the short descriptions when I’m unsure, for time reasons (like the midnight screenings), if a movie might be worth sticking around for or not. Otherwise, my advance knowledge of a movie is limited to the screenshot that’s printed in the program. In case of “Emelie” it was the shot of a young boy holding a gun to his babysitter, which is why I assumed that this would be a movie about a babysitter that gets confronted with an evil, sadistic and dangerous kid. Which couldn’t have been further away from the truth.
Instead, it’s the babysitter who’s the perpetrator here. And while this arguably through me off a little at the beginning, I managed to adapt quite quickly, and for 2/3rds of the movie, really enjoyed myself. Emelie is a babysitter from hell, teaching them all kinds of wrong lessons, making them uncomfortable, and during the course of the movie, forcing them to see or do some pretty dark shit (which I’m not going to spoil here, because much of the fun of that part of the movie is to see what she’ll come up with next, and how far things are going to go). I loved how she put the kids against each other, and for a while wondered what game she was playing, and what it was all about. Was she trying to see how far she could go with them? It all escalated quite nicely, and what I liked most was the scene from the screenshot, with one of them aiming the gun at her. Unfortunately, shortly after, when her – rather mundane – motivation was finally revealed (in a scene that I actually quite liked; there’s just something about dark children’s books that really speaks to me), the movie derailed very quickly. It’s main problem is that as soon as we know what she actually wants, her actions from before don’t really make any sense. If she would have simply played the nice babysitter and put them to sleep, it all would have been so much easier for her. Thus, she really looks quite stupid for acting how she does.
Now, ok, I get it, she’s obviously a little crazy (which is another thing: I actually would have founded it a lot more shocking if she would have been cold and calculated), and yes, she wanted to see if she picked the right kid, but come on. That just did not make any sense. I also didn’t get why her accomplice [SPOILERS AHEAD!] would kill himself for her. That seemed to be totally out of character. And I didn’t much care for the ending, where they didn’t even have the balls to at least let her kill the neighbor’s kid. And then, of course, she gets away, and we end on a “It’s not over yet! She’s still out there and is trying to get YOUR child next!”-note [/END SPOILERS], which is just sooooo clichéd and overdone by now. Aaaaaaargh! Seriously, the whole “Home Alone”-like ending was rather stupid, and demanded a huge amount of suspension of disbelief in order to believe that the kids would have any chance against her. At least Sarah Bolger was really great in the titular role, and the kids also all gave good performances. Still, “Emelie” was a movie that I found rather frustrating and disappointing. It’s well shot and acted, and starts off really strong, but for the direction that the plot ultimately took, the writers really would deserve a good spanking.