19 October 2019 02:33


Eli review – schlocky Netflix horror devolves into supernatural silliness

Offloaded to Netflix by Paramount, who reportedly couldn't figure out how the heck to market it, supernatural horror flick Eli arrives with a number of question marks eerily circulating. In a remote, and comically creepy, mansion, a doctor (Lili Taylor) is offering an expensive experimental treatment that she claims will cure him. Rather like the wonderful, little-seen New Zealand comedy horror Housebound, Eli is a haunted house film where the person being haunted is unable to leave. Like The Cloverfield Paradox before it, Eli is a film more suited to the small screen, where audience members can multi-task, perhaps even search for something better to watch next. Netlfix's Newest Horror Movie 'Eli' Is a Fresh Take on a Haunted House Story In Netflix's new horror film Eli, a boy with an autoimmune disorder (Charlie Shotwell) is taken to a remote treatment center in a last-ditch hope to cure his condition - but the ending reveals that there's more to his illness than meets the eye.

Directed by Ciarán Foy, Eli stars Lili Taylor as the enigmatic Dr. Horn, Max Martini and Kelly Reilly as Eli's parents, Paul and Rose, and Stranger Things' Sadie Sink as a local girl called Haley, who befriends Eli through the glass of the conservatory. Eli realizes that the word "LIE" the ghosts are spelling out actually says "317" when viewed upside-down, and with a little prompting from Haley deduces that it most be the code to the medical wing. Eli's ending twist is that Dr. Horn isn't just a doctor, but a nun, and she's been trying to use gene editing to rid the Devil's children of their corruption. Eli's IV drip was actually holy water, and the injections he was given were tannis root, designed to suppress his true nature while Dr. Horn worked on his genes. When it's clear that the treatment has failed once again, Dr. Horn offers to at least save Eli's soul by performing a rite and killing him with a holy dagger.

It's Haley that assures Eli other patients have seen ghosts as well, and she first suggests that the number "317" might be a code for a door. When Eli tries to escape before his final treatment, Haley encourages him, telling him, "You're so much stronger than the others." She couldn't actually tell Eli the truth or break him out of the house, because their father insists on his children earning their place, but she could guide him in the right direction. One detail that isn't explicitly explained in Eli's ending is why exactly he appeared to have a strong allergic reaction when exposed to normal air, even by a simple tear in his Hazmat suit. Dr. Horn tells him that his sickness doesn't come from without, but from within, and she also reveals that she's been working with his parents for a long time. Putting all this together, it's possible to conclude that there was an extra element to Eli's bubble room at home, his Hazmat suit, and even to the airlock in Dr. Horn's house: they weren't simply keeping the air purified from germs or dust, but were religiously reinforced to keep Eli in purified "holy air" that prevented his true self from emerging.

After killing everyone except his mother and setting fire to the house, Eli steps outside and his red skin and demonic eyes fade away, indicating that the allergic reactions he's been having were simply the first stage of a transition that his parents had previously managed to prevent being completed. Netflix shambles along through the October-horror graveyard with Eli, a haunted-house/creepy-kid movie from Sinister 2 director Ciaran Foy. There's a scene in the film where a mother prays for her son's debilitating illness to be cured, and it was a familiar sight — I myself had just whispered one to the movie gods, hoping that Eli wouldn't be yet another boilerplate boo-fest. Before you can say "Moops!", his desperate parents (Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) have packaged him in an airtight spacesuit and schlepped him cross-country to see a "miracle worker," Dr. Isabella Horn (Lili Taylor), who promises a cure. And then there's a red-haired girl (Sadie Sink of Stranger Things fame), who chats with Eli from the patio on the other side of the window, and appears to be real. Netflix's Original Horror Movies, on its veritable list, has a new entrant in 'Eli.' A 90-odd minute film that relies heavily on one particular twist.

Perhaps, it could have been a tad stronger as the ending leaves you divided — whether or not to like the film. In what comes as a last-ditch effort, his parents (Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) squeeze the last of their money and take Eli to a clean house run by a certain mysterious Dr. Horn (Lili Taylor). There are some scenes that make you think of 'The Conjuring' or 'The Haunting of Hill House', but Foy tells the story of a boy and ghosts confined in one small space. Couple this with Dr. Horn's calming explanations of the treatment's side-effects, you would think the whole supernatural factor is just a rather strong figment of Eli's imagination. Sink is impressive as Haley while Reilly and Martini essay the role of troubled parents eager to see a cured Eli to perfection.

Foy's venture isn't for the faint-hearted and if you're in the mood for watching a decent horror flick, 'Eli's worth the whirl.