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Emelie (2015)

Dark Sky Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/3/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/18/2016

The horror movie genre contains many types of categories and sub-genres, but when you really boil it down, there are two types of scary movies. Some focus on more broad horrors. Am I scared of being chased by a masked psycho-killer? I guess. Do I even think about an alien bursting from my chest? Maybe after I've eaten too much Mexican food. The other kind of horror movies examine more personal fears. It's been decades and I still can't go into the ocean without thinking about Jaws. (Although, I must confess that the piranha who can fit through a drain cross my mind much more often.) These fears play on our sense of control and what it would be like if something directly effected our lives. This is the focus of the new film Emelie.

It's Dan (Chris Beteem) and Joyce's (Susan Pourfar) wedding anniversary and they have planned for a night out, but they need someone to watch their three children -- Jacob (Joshua Rush), Sally (Carly Adams), and Christopher (Thomas Bair). Their usual sitter, Maggie (Elizabeth Jayne), wasn't available, so she recommended her friend, Anna (Sarah Bolger). Dan picks Anna up and brings her back to the house where she meets the kids and gets her instructions. Now, Dan and Joyce can finally enjoy their special dinner. However, Anna isn't who she says that she is and she has some very naughty and dangerous things in mind to keep the children entertained.

From that point on, Emelie becomes an exercise in controlled depravity and the games get more dangerous and the stakes get higher. The movie asks us a very blunt question -- Can you really ever trust anyone? This really plays upon the innate guilt which many parents have when it comes to their children. Dan and Joyce simply want a night to themselves, is that too much to ask? Is it OK to let a perfect stranger into your home to watch your kids, no matter how good their references are? If anything bad were to happen, Dan and Joyce would always blame themselves for being selfish and not being there for the little ones. We are supposed to feel safe in our homes, so it's a real slap in the face when we unknowingly invite danger inside.

Clearly, Emelie is dealing with some heavy issues. Unfortunately, it doesn't know how to handle or balance them. At the outset, Anna appears to be some sort of anarchist, whose goal it is to do some truly disturbing things with the kids, while at the same time attempting to teach them about personal freedom. This actually makes her an interesting new entry into the crazy babysitter sub-genre. But, then Director Michael Thelin and Writer Richard Raymond reveal Anna's true agenda, and suddenly things get very murky. For starters, her true reason for entering the home becomes very cliched. But, more importantly, when Anna's backstory and her plan are revealed, in her actions in the first half of the film cease to make much sense, as do many of her subsequent actions, as she could have simply carried out her plan within the first 30 minutes of the movie. Also, I would love for someone to explain the motive behind the car wreck scene. I know that he wanted to help out, but come on...

The movie's shift in tone and logic really stymie what could have been a far more original movie. As it stands, Emelie isn't a bad movie, it's just one which doesn't live up to its potential. The first half of the movie certainly has some (mild) shock value and there is a suspenseful scene involving a gun. The finale contains some nice moments, as the kids finally come to their senses and attempt to stop Anna. However, the second half of the movie becomes an exercise in "seen in all before", as we hope that someone will stop Anna. Emelie is a somewhat solid entry into the "who's watching the kids?" genre, but be prepared for it to run out of gas in the second half.

Emelie had me questioning Anna from the get-go as her fee wasn't discussed on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Dark Sky Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image never overly bright or dark, even in the later, nighttime scenes. The level of detail is good and the image is never soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are notable here, as there are several moments where we are treated to sounds coming from somewhere in the house. The stereo channels benefit from these elements in the mix as well. The few moments where the subwoofer chime in are effective.

The Emelie Blu-ray Disc contains only two extras. The "Making Of" (13 minutes) kicks off with interviews with Director Michael Thelin and Writer Richard Raymond, who discuss how the project came about. From there, we begin to hear from the cast, who discuss their characters and their experiences on the film. Along with the interviews, we get a little bit of on-set footage. The other extra is the TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long