'Emelie': EW review
Babysitters, both in reality and in horror movies, are the ones you can trust — especially if they’re the charming, wholesome young women that usually occupy those roles in film. Not in Emelie. No, in Emelie, the babysitter is the deceitful, deranged villain. That’s apparent from the very first scene, where she kidnaps the woman scheduled to babysit the three Thompson children and takes on her identity for the rest of the evening. From there, she shows up at the Thompson household, acting the part of trustworthy babysitter: She’s inquisitive, smiley, and reassuring. And then the parents leave, and things start to slowly fall apart — very, very slowly.
In some cases, a slow build is a necessary and effective way to up the scare factor. In this case, the slow build is painstakingly sluggish, a seemingly never-ending climb toward a climax that’s not satisfying enough to be worth the wait. That climb is littered with quiet moments that successfully disturb, but in a way that feels more grossly inappropriate thanks to their sexual undertones than darkly entertaining. At one point, the babysitter — “Anna” — makes the 11-year-old boy find and unwrap a tampon for her as she sits, sans pants, on the toilet. Later, she forces all three kids to watch their parents’ sex tape. It’s not frightening; it’s just filthy.
But those scenes do allow star Sarah Bolger to showcase her range as a babysitter gradually transforming from sweet to sinister. The Once Upon a Time actress’ ability to believably flip-flop between the two gives the movie a lingering unease that only worsens once she reveals her motives. But even her creepy performance isn’t enough to make Emelie the haunting nail-biter it clearly wants to be, though it does make a convincing case for why you can’t trust just anyone — even the babysitter. C+