Emelie A terse, suspenseful thriller set almost entirely over the course of a single, suburban evening – which upends the premise of the classic Halloween by presenting a sitter who is perhaps a danger to her charges, escalating from disturbing minor wrongness and childish anarchy to outright threat and violence. It’s not so much a home invasion and a home infiltration, and Sarah Bolger – a child actress in The Spiderwick Chronicles, more usually seen in straighter roles like the normal heroine of The Moth Diaries – gives a remarkably unsettling, subtle performance as the bland-seeming menace.
Upper middle-class Joyce (Susan Pourfar) and Dan (Chris Beetem) leave their home for an anniversary meal that’s also intended to rekindle their relationship, entrusting their three children – sulky older son Jacob (Joshua Rush), moppet daughter Sally (Carly Adams) and hyperactive youngest Christopher (Thomas Bair) – to a new sitter (Bolger). The young woman claims her name is Anna, though we’ve seen the real Anna (Randi Langdon) snatched off the street in a disturbing, distanced prologue, but her identity card reveals that she’s really Emelie. First, Emelie is simply unconventional – sitting on the toilet and asking Jacob to fetch her a tampon, encouraging the kids to make a mural on a bedroom wall and uttering kid-pleasing statements like ‘Sometimes it’s okay to destroy things for fun’. Then, invited to help Jacob feed his pet python a dead mouse, she encourages Christopher to tip Sally’s beloved hamster Admiral Wobbles into the snake’s tank … and announces ‘movie time’ before exposing the kids to a sex video their parents have made and which she’s dug out while rifling through their valuables. Eventually, Emelie’s agenda emerges and Jacob, initially grumpily impatient with his siblings, becomes resourceful in defending the family.
Scripted by Richard Raymond and Harry Herbeck from a story they wrote with director Michael Thelin, Emilie is a taut exercise, very stripped-down but with tiny, telling character moments.