Until Dawn is a game about survival, unless we’re talking about Emily, in which case I’m waiting for the first opportunity of death’s sweet embrace.
The characters in Until Dawn largely play into well-known horror archetypes, whether it’s the sexpot blonde who’s always getting herself into trouble, the character who can’t die and seems destined to see the credits, etc. These movies typically have someone you really hate, too, a character the audience is rooting to die the whole way through.
THERE ARE SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON! SPOILERS ABOUT THE STORY AND SPOILERS ABOUT HOW MUCH I HATE EMILY! SPOILER: SHE SUCKS.
Emily is that character in Until Dawn, earning the title of Most Wanted To Be Killed in record time. The writers want you to hate her, so every line of dialogue drips with smarm, arrogance, and an obnoxious valley girl twang that makes you want to drive a screwdriver into your ear.
These are all codewords for: “I am a miserable human and don’t give two shits about it.”
All of this is apparent the very first time you meet Emily. “Where’s the bellboy when you need one?” she playfully cries, as her boyfriend sighs and carefully lugs her bags up a mountain.
When she arrives at the cabin, she can’t help but immediately be unlikable, picking a fight with her ex-boyfriend’s new significant other. Her desperation to seem above everyone else only reveals how little she actually thinks about herself.
Right after, Emily flips her shit over a missing bag—and that’s when it was over for her.
This was the moment my wife turned to me while we were playing, fire in her eyes, and became determined to make sure Emily did not survive the night. It was scarier than anything Until Dawn had thrown at me yet, so I quickly said “yes m’am” and began operation Let’s Kill Emily.
This doesn’t become possible until later in the game, when we made the decision to have Emily and Matt split off and look for help. (Using horror logic, we figured distancing them from the group would increase the chances the two would find themselves in trouble and possibly dying. Matt was a cool guy, but he was worth losing.)
Eventually, they stumble upon a tower with a working radio, but Just As Everything Seems Great, things go wrong. Someone sabotages the tower, it begins to collapse, and Emily is dangling from the edge. This was the moment where my wife started screaming at the screen like it was football Sunday. “Kill her! Kill her! Kill her!”
WHO WOULD WANT TO SAVE THAT? IF YOU SAID YES, CONSIDER YOURSELF BANNED.
But I couldn’t do it. More specifically, it seemed like Matt wouldn’t do it. Despite my best efforts to try and save Emily, however, her big mouth got in the way and the game did the job for me.
...or so it seemed.
As is the case with most horror, people aren’t dead unless you see their heads literally fall off. (Even in that case, don’t count out some magic voodoo or a lightning bolt to reanimate people.)
She shows up a little later, right after Matt’s jaw is dislodged from his face, and continues to stick around way longer than she has any right to. I was actually given another opportunity to kill her off, as the group suspects she might’ve been infected with the virus turning people into the hideous creatures running around, but my good guy intentions kept her alive yet again.
(Cue additional grumbling from my wife.)
In the game’s final moments, the remaining survivors are confronted by certain death in the cabin, the characters come up with one last play. They flood the cabin with gas, hoping to use a nearby light to ignite the place.
At this point, I have Mike, Emily, Sam, and Chris still alive and kicking. I ended up panicking during the game’s final choice and...
Goodbye, Emily. You will not be missed. Fuck off.
You can reach the author of this post at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.