01/05/2020 15:07

Film: Eli

Year: 2019

Director: Ciarán Foy

Writer: David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing

Starring: Charlie Shotwell, Kelly Reilly and Max Martini



This was a film that I heard about in the beginning of the year, but it seemed to keep getting pushed back. I was pretty excited when I saw there was some buzz thanks to the click bait articles about how terrifying this film is. My roommate even checked it out so I was intrigued to give it a viewing. The synopsis is a boy receiving treatment for his auto-immune disorder discovers that the house he’s living in isn’t as safe as he thought.

We start this off with a boy, Eli (Charlie Shotwell) as he’s walking across the yard. He seems hesitant, but runs toward his family. They’re blurry and we can’t really make them out. He ends up falling down and he can’t breath. It turns out that he’s living in an oxygen tent as he has an auto-immune disorder that will kill him if he’s out in the normal air. We see his routine as things have to be clean and sealed for him to use them. His family is pretty much broke in trying to find a cure. His parents are Rose (Kelly Reilly) and Paul (Max Martini).

They can’t Eli to the middle of nowhere as there’s a ‘clean house’. He goes inside and it is run by Dr. Horn (Lili Taylor). From all accounts, she’s great as an immunologist and has cured all patients that come to her. She is assisted by two nurses, Barbara (Deneen Tyler) and Maricela (Katia Gomez). Inside this house, Eli is able to leave his hazmat suit and walk around like normal. He’s hesitant at first, but he’s able to interact with his parents for the first time in awhile.

Dr. Horn informs the family that it will take three treatments to cure Eli. They have to fix his genes with a virus that jumpstart his immune system and fix it. The problem though is that he starts to see ghosts in the house. On top of that, there’s a girl that visits him, Haley (Sadie Sink). She tells him that Dr. Horn doesn’t like her and that she is hiding something.

Eli starts to distrust her and realizes that these ghosts that are visiting him might not be out to hurt him, but to reveal the truth of this place and what is going on. Dr. Horn is hiding something, but it isn’t necessarily what Eli thinks. He’s convinced she’s not there to help him, but kill him. Paul wants to cure Eli as does his mother, but the more Rose learns, the less she’s on board.

Now I have to say, this film really does have some interesting aspects to it for sure. The first thing is that I like the idea of having Eli inside of what could be a potentially haunted house. He can’t just leave and his parents don’t believe that he’s actually seeing ghosts. That also makes it a contained horror film, which I tend to be a big fan of. To add to this as well, Dr. Horn tells the parents that the treatments she’s giving can make him hallucinate. I like this angle as we as viewers don’t know he’s really seeing these things or is it all in his head. I will say though, this film goes to the dream sequence a few times. I liked the initial one as it’s a good way to establish his ailment. What I didn’t like was to use it possible explain away some of the ghostly encounters.

We get some interesting reveals in this story as well. We learn that Dr. Horn isn’t necessarily telling the truth about everything. I like the more we learn, Paul and Rose are both hiding things as well. Haley is interesting in planting the seeds of doubt with Eli as she interacted with the other children who were treated here. I really want to delve into this more so I am going to have a spoilers section in the bottom so I can do so.

If there’s something about this movie I had issues, part of it was with the pacing. I like how it introduced us to Eli and his family. I also like how they introduce Dr. Horn and the facility she is running. There are some subtle things that we get that make a lot of sense later on and that includes Haley and some of the things she reveals. I wasn’t necessarily into the ghostly aspects, but I came around to the reveal of what is really going on here. The climax sequence though pulled me right in and I really enjoyed where they took it.

That will take me to the acting of this film. I didn’t mind Shotwell overall. I try not to be hard on children actors as there are so few that are really good. I did find him annoying at times, but I am also forgiving as he’s been living in an enclosure, not being able to experience the world around him. I would probably be ornery myself. Reilly and Martini are both solid. I think there’s some subtle interaction between the two that make so much sense at the reveal. I like Taylor. She’s an actress that I saw in the genre and really has emerged as scream queen of sorts with her catalogue in the genre. I like that she is presented as the villain with an interesting reveal. Sink is good for what her role needed as well as Tyler and Gomez. The children that play the ghosts are also fine as well.

The effects in this film weren’t the greatest. They are mostly CGI, which makes sense as that is the easiest thing to do for the ghosts we get here. I don’t think they look any better than the low budget ghostlies that we see regularly coming out. I did like what they did to show when Eli’s disorder is killing him and I also liked what they did during the climax. I do think that it is shot well, especially in their use of mirrors.

Now with that said, this film was one that I thought was solid. It did lose my interest until the reveal and then I was back on board. I liked that it is contained where this child cannot go out into the world due to an auto-immune disorder. The reveal of the truth of everything I really liked. The acting I thought was pretty solid and the CGI was kind of hit or miss. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt. It did fit for what was needed. Overall I’d say this is above average overall.


My Rating: 7 out of 10




As Eli learns that these ghosts are not trying to hurt him, the message they leave isn’t just telling him that Dr. Horn is lying, it is also the code to the door that will take him to the medical wing. Haley reveals as well that she communicated with Perry (Austin Foxx) who also saw ghosts. Dr. Horn told Eli and his parents that is not the case. Once he finds the files, we learn that the ghosts are actually the former patients of Perry, Agnes (Kailia Posey) and Lucius (Parker Lovein). None of them survived treatment four.

Another reveal is that Dr. Horn is a former nun. There’s a moment where Eli is locked in the basement which is similar has an odd Christian like alter as well as what seems to be a well. Rose ends up seeing that Eli was right, Dr. Horn has been killing the children. It turns out though that Paul is not his father, Eli is the son of the devil. They’re trying to exorcise him. He uses his power to kill Dr. Horn and the two nurses. Also that Haley is his half-sister, as she’s also a demon. I’m really into the corruption of religion and humanity, so I dug this. I like the interaction where Paul makes snide remakes so I knew that Rose cheated, just not in the way that I was expecting. I do feel they could have slid some more things to help us get there as I do feel it comes out of nowhere. The nun reveal happened a bit too late to go down this path. The ghosts were also trying to keep Eli as there also his weaker half-brothers and sisters.