Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Scary Movies 9: Emelie
The sooner kids learn to booby-trap their
home with paint cans on string, the sooner they will be prepared for life’s
challenges. That was the takeaway from the Home
Alone franchise and it was a good one. Unfortunately, it is never really
embraced in Michael Thelin’s Emelie (trailer here), which screens as
part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Scary Movies 9.
After thirteen exhausting years of
marriage, Joyce and Dan are sneaking off for their anniversary dinner, leaving
their three spirit-crushing children in the care of a sitter. Since their
regular was ill, they opted for her well-vouched for friend, Anna instead.
Unfortunately, the young woman who turned up on their doorstep was not the (now
deceased) Anna. She is the highly disturbed Emelie.
At first, “Anna” seems like one of those
cool sitters, but Jacob, the oldest son, starts to have his doubts when she
forces his sister Sally to feed her hamster to his pet snake. When she insists
they watch their parents’ sex tape, he becomes convinced something is awry.
After a little snooping in her purse confirms her name does not match her
assumed identity, the cat-and-mouse game commences in earnest.
Emelie has been widely
programmed as a horror movie, but it is really more of a home
invasion-violation thriller in the tradition of the early 1990s Ray Liotta
thriller Unlawful Entry. For a while,
it holds out promise of becoming a dark, subversive midnight movie version of Home Alone, but it never fulfills that
potential. Basically, Jacob is just proactive enough to keep his head above
water waiting for the cavalry to arrive. That is definitely a missed
Frankly, Richard Raymond Harry Herbeck’s
screenplay seriously tries our patience each time Emelie manages to stymie Jacob
at the very last second. Honestly, she must have more clutch saves than Mariano
Rivera. There is certainly suspense involved, because young lead actor Joshua
Rush is too engaging to give up on. However, much of the film’s psychological
torments of the children makes you feel uncomfortable, just for knowing you
Rush is terrific, as is Carly Adams as
Sally. However, the waifish Sarah Bolger might be able to pass for a
twentysomething passing for a teen, but she does not have the big villainous
presence this role requires. However, Dante Hoagland makes a strong impression
as Jacob’s best bud Howie, the film’s best realized supporting character.
are sure to find its premise horrifying, but Emelie still never feels like a proper horror film, as compared to
the original When a Stranger Calls,
for instance. After all, most horror movies are more fun than this, but Thelin
find little room in the proceedings for black humor. Not exactly a priority, Emelie screens this Saturday (10/31) as
part of Scary Movies 9. Families should note James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein also screens on Halloween
afternoon—and it’s a free show, so no sitter required.
Labels: Scary Movies 9