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Emelie tells the story of a couple hiring a new babysitter for their three young children while they go out for dinner. Their usual sitter is busy for the evening but she’s recommended her friend Anna (Sarah Bolger) who can sit instead. They’ve never met Anna but they trust their usual sitter.
When the father, Dan (Chris Beetem) goes to pick up Anna everything seems fine; she’s very friendly and has apparently babysat for another family in the neighborhood as well. When Anna meets the kids, they hit it off right away. However, when Dan and his wife leave for dinner, Anna starts to act strangely and they oldest boy, Jacob (Joshua Rush), begins to think that there’s something not quite right with her.
Movies with young children are really hard to do well. They’re usually over-the-top family specials where the kids are supposed to be a little heavy handed or they’re in movies where the kids are side characters. I can’t say enough about the child actors in this movie. They really did a tremendous job, especially Rush, who is the man of the house while his parents are away. You can clearly see the usual sibling animosity slowly dissipate as he realizes that he has to take care of his sister and his brother. His instincts to protect them is so strong and Rush portrays that perfectly.
Director Michael Thelin creates a very tense atmosphere, the threat of harm to the children always so close at hand. To that effect, the build is rather slow but ultimately it really helps develop the characters; showing the changes in Jacob and Anna. For his debut film, Thelin has really proven that he has a great awareness of space, using the confines of the house to their best advantage. He also knows exactly how to make the audience squirm without the need for gore or jump scares.
Anna’s backstory is a somewhat cliché and tired trope but it does suit the needs of the plot. There are some moments of incredulity at the decisions that she makes and the path that she chooses; it’s clear that it’s just serving the purpose of getting to this point in her life. That being said, it’s a necessary evil in an otherwise convincing story.
Overall, this is a really well done thriller and you should definitely curl up on the couch tonight to watch it. After all, what’s scarier than potentially leaving your children with someone who is a little… unhinged?
Director: Michael Thelin
Writers: Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck, Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck
Stars: Sarah Bolger, Carly Adams, Carl Bailey, Chris Beetem