Parents in the market for some deserved date-night distraction couldn't do much worse than "Emelie" — and that's meant as a compliment.
Taking its creepy cue from Rebecca De Mornay's decidedly non-nurturing "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," the brutally sinister thriller about a family of three kids trusted to the care of a seriously disturbed young woman hits home with unsettling panache.
From the outset, the film makes it clear that the new sitter (Sarah Bolger) isn't who she claims to be, but Dad (Chris Beetam) and Mom (Susan Pourfar) aren't aware of what the audience knows when they head out to celebrate their 13th anniversary at a nice restaurant.
Even before the woman posing as Anna reveals her true, warped intentions, she arouses the suspicions of big brother Jacob (Joshua Rush) by allowing them to paint on the walls and forcing them to watch their parents' wildly inappropriate amateur videos.
Irish actress Bolger plays her psychopath with cool, calculating intimidation, while first-time feature director Michael Thelin, sharing screenplay credit with Rich Herbeck, lays a solid foundation of suburban domesticity on which to build all the mounting menace.
Although things get a bit muddled by the denouement, "Emelie," fiendishly preying on universal parental fears and guilt, makes a convincing case for family staycations.
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood