(USA 2015)

Emelie is the feature film debut of Michael Thelin, whose past work consists largely of concert films and documentaries for acts like Cee Lo Green, Stone Temple Pilots, Paramore, and Panic! at the Disco. Interestingly, he went with a thriller.

Emelie (Sarah Bolger), or “Anna,” is a sitter with a story that becomes evident over the course of her evening watching the Thompson kids, Jacob (Joshua Rush), Sally (Carly Adams), and Christopher (Thomas Blair). Emelie starts out cool enough, giving Jacob the video game his mother took from him earlier and playing dress up with Sally and Christopher. She turns dyspeptic, though, and things get ugly: she messes with their pets, shows them a porn, and leaves out a gun for them to play with. Oh yeah, and then there’s that scene with Jacob and the tampon. Emelie’s got issues, and one of the kids exposes why.

I really wanted to love this film. Clearly, a lot went into it: the plot is carefully constructed with no detail left unexplained. It looks professional, even if a bit made-for-TV. The acting, particularly the little ones, is pretty good. Bolger has a nice Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) thing going on. My issue is a technical one: ultimately Emelie is flat. Bolger is creepy and menacing but not scary or intense, and the plot fails to engage beyond a superficial level. In other words, it didn’t pull me into the action; it left me observing it passively from the audience. Disappointing for a midnight movie, I found myself not invested in the outcome. Perhaps Thelin’s next try will be better; I’d like to see more from him.

(Music Box) C