Review of "Emelie (DVD)"

published 03/11/2016 | CelticSoulSister
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Super
Pro Different, well-acted, intriguing, atmospheric music, mostly well-directed/produced
Cons Some indistinct dialogue, too many scenes are too dark
exceptional
Did you enjoy it?
Story
Characters / Performances
Special Effects
Soundtrack

"A dodgy babysitter"

RELEASED: 2015, Cert.15

RUNNING TIME: Approx. 1hr 20mins

DIRECTOR: Michael Thelin

SCREENPLAY: Richard Herbeck & Michael Thelin

PRODUCER: Andrew Corkin

MUSIC: Phil Mossman

MAIN CAST:-

Sarah Bolger as Emelie/Anna
Carly Adams as Sally
Thomas Blair as Christopher
Joshua Rush as Jacob
Hilary Walker as Mother
Chris Beetem as Dan
Dante Hoagland as Howie

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FILM ONLY REVIEW

Emelie starts with a girl walking along the street when a car draws up beside her. The driver asks her for directions and whilst she is giving them, somebody jumps out of the car and abducts her, hauling her into the back seat. The car then drives off to who knows where.

Dan and his wife (Mother in the main cast list above) are going out to celebrate their wedding anniversary and as their usual babysitter can’t make it that evening, they employ Anna, a young woman who when introduced to the children (Sally, Christopher and Jacob), seems for the most part to hit it off with them – although Jacob, the eldest, is a little hesitant and wary….watching Anna with a concerned expression in his eyes.

Once Anna is left alone with her charges after having been given instructions on what they should and shouldn’t eat plus the parents leaving a mobile phone number in case of emergencies, she (Anna) adopts an unconventional way of supervising and looking after the children….subjecting them to unsuitable and inappropriate activities.

Jacob (who is aged about 12 or so) watches on, becoming more suspicious by the moment, convinced that Anna is up to no good.

As the games and activities Anna introduces the children to become more unsettling, a strange reason as to why she has accepted this babysitting job becomes apparent……and we then learn that Anna’s real name is Emelie, plus she definitely is up to no good.

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Despite having been released on DVD only last year, I managed to find a copy of Emelie in my local charity shop for a mere 50p, and as the blurb on the sleeve appealed to me, I felt it wouldn’t break the bank to splash out and hopefully treat myself, although I did have a modicum of suspicion as to the film’s merit if it was on sale in a charity shop so soon after its release…..but, in for a penny, in for a pound (or in this case 50p) so I snuggled up to watch with interest.

Emelie starts off very well, with the abduction of a young woman as she attempts to give a car driver directions, being portrayed in a realistic way…..this very much is how abductions of this nature would happen.

Once the film moves into the part where Anna/Emelie arrives as babysitter to three lively children and their parents go off to a restaurant to celebrate their wedding anniversary, I was intrigued as Anna/Emelie’s babysitting methods are suspect, to say the least, she subjecting the children to some inappropriate games and activities. I did enjoy this part of the film very much and it wasn’t immediately obvious as to what Anna/Emelie’s motives were, but when such was revealed, I did feel such to be a little on the contrived side.

The acting in Emelie is very good, with particularly strong performances from Sarah Bolger as Emelie/Anna and Joshua Rush as Jacob, a worried older child who could almost immediately detect there was something amiss about the new babysitter yet wasn’t at first sure what to do about it. The other cast members also played their parts well, although I did find the younger children a tad on the annoying side….but that is because my tolerance levels towards noisy, lively kids aren’t good even at the best of times. In addition to the general acting levels being good, both Bolger and Rush utilised some brilliant facial expressions which I admired, bearing in mind both actors are pretty young….and, there are some clever camera angles used. However and despite the good acting, some of the dialogue is indistinct.

The music to Emelie is surprisingly good, being electronic/avant-garde in nature, yet subtle, chilling and totally suiting the atmosphere of what for the most part is an interesting film that although not chilling in the horror sense – it isn’t a horror film – injects an appropriate sense of discomfort whilst watching the activities of what could be described as the babysitter from hell.

I felt that the activities which Anna/Emelie was at first encouraging but later forcing the children into were quite interesting and imaginative – simple things really, but grossly inappropriate for young kids and I was, with each new ‘game’ Anna/Emelie introduced, intrigued to see what she’d come up with next.

Although I wouldn’t call it a plot hole, I did pick up on one thing in that as Anna/Emelie’s supervisory tactics became more bizarre, why was Jacob phoning his friend Howie (who is the same age) for help and advice, instead of dialling his parents’ mobile number and asking them to come home quickly? However, if he had have alerted his parents instead of Howie, then there wouldn’t be a story!

I wasn’t sure why Anna/Emelie was behaving in the way that she did and subjecting the children to these bizarre activities, but once her motive was revealed and why she took on the job of babysitting in the first place, it didn’t strike me as being particularly credible…..not impossible, but highly unlikely. However, such revelation didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film.

Despite those almost insignificant niggles which I’ve just described in the last two paragraphs above, I was gripped by Emelie as a film, eager to see what would happen next…..but, from a certain point onwards….the point where things get really out of hand as Anna/Emelie goes overboard with her undesirable babysitting activities….a more significant niggle happened in that most of the ensuing scenes are shot in virtually complete darkness so I was unable to work out what was happening. This dropped the quality of the film down a couple of notches for me because these dark scenes are of great importance to the storyline and due to not being able to see much, I lost the plot to a degree.

During these ‘please put the lights on’ scenes, something happens which (this event, although only lasting a few moments, is filmed with proper lighting) made me jump out of my skin and I feel it was very well done. The ‘jump factor’ isn’t anything spooky or gory as Emelie isn’t that kind of film, but I wasn’t expecting the incident to happen and was pleased with an out of the blue event that sparked up my interest again, an interest that was slightly evaporating due to the scenes shot in darkness…..but, after this short interlude, the ensuing events plummeted back into lots of action happening that couldn’t be seen due to inadequate lighting.

When learning that Emelie is a story about a dodgy babysitter, I was wondering how much and if it would resemble The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, but was thankful to discover that they are nothing like one another, each storyline going off in completely different directions.

The ending to Emelie came as a surprise to me and I felt it to be masterfully written/constructed….plus, it left me wondering, which for me is the hallmark of a quality story….to leave the viewer musing and hanging on a rather disturbing psychological edge.

For the most part I really enjoyed Emelie, feeling it to be a well-acted, well-constructed film with good music, a gently but powerfully pungent atmosphere and on the slightly quirky side in a sinister sort of way, but I’m afraid it was ruined by these important scenes shot in almost complete darkness. What is the point of creating a film (one which I perhaps wrongly believe to have been written, directed and produced by young people close to the beginning of their cinematic career) which in all ways is potentially brilliant, but then spoil it by losing the viewer simply because of not being able to see what is happening at the most crucial moments? After that confusion though, there is this rather masterful ending which disturbingly drifts the film off without true closure, and this was so very well done.

Emelie isn’t a long film and in some ways this I saw to be an advantage in that it didn’t ramble off into the realms of irrelevancy, but on the other hand, maybe to have added 20 or so minutes to the viewing time, could have given space to hike up Anna/Emelie’s babysitting techniques to even more disturbing levels.

As to whether I’d recommend Emelie, I’d lean towards the “yes” side, but do be prepared for the quite lengthy section of dark filming that loses the essence of the storyline somewhat – to have put a light or two on would definitely clear up any confusion.

All in all, Emelie is an intriguing, rather sinister, atmospheric film with good music that I largely enjoyed and may even consider a second viewing at some point. Apparently it was nominated for some awards, but I’m not sure if it was successful in winning any. I should reiterate that Emelie isn’t a horror film nor does it contain anything supernatural….I guess it would fall into the psychological thriller/drama category.

As for my star rating, I’d actually like to give a full house, but must drop one off for the scenes shot in almost total darkness, as I feel this syndrome ruined what otherwise could have pushed Emelie up into ‘great film’ status.

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At the time of writing, Emelie can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-

New: from £3.52 to £10.95
Used: none currently available
Collectible: only one copy (used) currently available @ £13.97

Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn’t apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.

Thanks for reading!

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Product Information : Emelie (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

DVD Region: DVD

Classification: 15 years and over

Video Category: Feature Film

Production Year: 2016

Actor(s): Carly Adams, Thomas Bair, Sarah Bolger, Chris Beetem, Carl Bailey

EAN: 5051429102863

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Listed on Ciao since: 21/09/2016