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Emelie

Posted on November 18, 2015

Top Five Films Screened at the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival

Dawn

I just got back from a weekend at the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival, where some amazing films were in the lineup. Thanks to Hughes Barbier for putting together such a stimulating event.

Here are my top five, all of which you should watch when they become commercially available:

1. The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama (USA). Grade: A+

Michael Gingold of Fangoria introduced The Invitation at IIFFF, saying it was one of the best horror films of the last couple of years. I agree (though I still think the standout horror film of 2015 is David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, which I review here).

Gingold also said that the less you know about The Invitation going into it, the better—and I wholeheartedly agree with that too. I (purposefully) hadn’t read any reviews of the film ahead of time, and so I got to experience the disconcerting and disorienting events just as the protagonist did. It’s very difficult to write anything about the film without giving too much away and thus spoiling it, so I guess the two principal things I want to convey here are: (a) see the film (which will apparently get general release in March 2016); and (b) don’t read any reviews of it before you do.

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Posted on November 15, 2015

Emelie (2015): Reviews from #IIFFF

Dawn

80 min   | Michael Thelin |   (USA)   |   2015

Grade: B

Emelie is a strikingly unsettling film for about the first fifty minutes. The plot is fairly simple: parents Dan and Joyce (Chris Beetem and Susan Pourfar) go out to celebrate their anniversary. Their usual babysitter has plans so they hire a girl they don’t know, albeit one vetted by friends. Unbeknownst to them, however, a couple has kidnapped the girl who was supposed to be babysitting for them and the mysterious Emelie arrives on their doorstep instead. Dan and Joyce go happily out to dinner leaving their three children Jake (11), Sally (9), and Christopher (4) in the tender care of Emelie.

1. Emelie crown

Emelie proceeds to do things no parent would ever want a babysitter to do. The film is brilliant in its slow slide from the arguably “normal” toward the truly perverse. At first, Emelie just seems a vaguely anarchic force, letting the kids eat what they want, telling the two younger children, who want to play dress-up, to be creative in what they wear. She tells them that they don’t “have to be a boy or a girl. You can be anything you want to be. You just have to pretend.” Pushing the boundaries of imagination soon turns into destroying valuable things for costumes and painting on the walls. “Sometimes it’s okay to destroy things for fun,” Emelie says. Then it turns a bit more sinister: there’s a bathroom scene involving Emelie, who has her period, and the emergent adolescent, Jake (Joshua Rush). Then Emelie decides Jake’s pet python needs a treat. And then Emelie declares that it’s movie time: let’s just say no child should have to see what Jake, Sally, and Christopher see.

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