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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Review: Eli

Director: Ciarán Foy
Screenplay: David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg, and Richard Naing
Year: 2019

“Eli” is another horror movie to make an entrance into Netflix during the Halloween season, the perfect time to include horror movies in any digital library. As with “The Influence”, “Eli” didn’t make much noise before reaching the digital platform and took many users by surprise once it started promoting. Different from “The Influence” and for our good luck, this one is a good surprise. 

Eli is a kid that has developed a strange illness: some kind of immunodeficiency that prevents him from being outside. With the intention of giving him a better quality of life, his parents look for a cure to his disease, which takes them to Dr. Horn who specializes in these cases. Dr. Horn’s facilities are in an old house in a secluded rural area, and once Eli and his parents reach this place and start the treatment, the boy starts presenting a weird behavior that they don’t know if it’s a reaction to the treatment of if there is something supernatural going on in the house.

The first minutes of the movie present Eli and his parents, emphasizing in their family dynamics and the hardships they must bear because of Eli’s condition. Once they reach Dr. Horn’s installments it is impossible to think that something bad is not going to happen since the house has a sinister appearance, this is a horror movie, and that Dr. Horn is interpreted by Lily Taylor, who brings back dark memories because of her participation in “The Conjuring”. As expected, things start turning darker and more confusing the more time they spend in the house and as Eli’s treatment is advancing.

The script by David Chirchirillo (“Cheap Thrills”), Ian Goldberg (“The Autopsy of Jane Doe”), and Richard Naing (“The Autopsy of Jane Doe”) under the direction of Ciarán Foy (“Sinister 2”) experiments with different subgenres of horror films, which is its best and worst resource. On one hand, the movie always keeps the viewer speculating about what’s going on and in parts, it seems to be a ghost and haunted house movie, while at the same time seems to be about medical abuse with some strokes of mental illness and manages to keep the plot interesting. On the other hand, it brings elements and situations to feed these suggestions that later are abandoned without much explanation once the movie takes a twist and focuses on another situation.

Something that was fundamental in maintaining the mystery about what is really going on in the plot was the acting. Most of the time we follow Eli, who is interpreted by Charlie Shotwell (“The Nightingale”), doing a great job portraying his character as one confused and frustrated. The dynamic between the parents is worked more through the body language than through explicit dialogue, where Max Martini (“The Order”) and Kelly Reilly (“Eden Lake”) also do a good job in making visible these signs about their relationship and feelings that are not always explicit through verbal interactions.

Because of the different turns the plot takes, the ending is surprising and hard to predict, although, in hindsight, there are indications that lead to it throughout different parts of the movie. The ending is visually stunning and in tune with what’s presented in the rest of the movie: unexpected turns and shift through different horror subgenres. “Eli” is an interesting addition to the Netflix catalog for this Halloween season that will not be to everyone’s liking because of its turns and genre jumps and some lack of originality, but that results in an entertaining horror movie for horror fans.

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