Just in time for Halloween, Eli is a spooky movie to watch by yourself or with friends. Just don’t be surprised if you either love or hate the ending.
Eli debuted on Netflix on Oct. 18. According to Netflix’s description, “A fragile family put their faith in a mysterious doctor’s ‘miracle cure.’ But this healer’s hiding a horrible secret.” Eli (Charlie Shotwell) thanks to an auto-immune disorder allergic to the world. His parents, Rose (Kelly Reilly) and Paul (Max Martini) take Eli to a gene therapy treatment center where Dr. Horn (Lili Taylor) promised them she could cure Eli. Strange things start happening and Eli is convinced the house is haunted and things aren’t what they appear to be.
What seems like a basic haunted house movie is anything but. A major plot twist around the 20-minute mark from the ending changes the pace and theme of the rest of the movie. The twist, although not an original idea in and of itself, is original paired with the haunted house cliché. The lead-in into the twist seems like it could have gone in a variety of ways. The way it did go in makes sense when all the pieces are put together, but it takes some time to get there.
The acting is phenomenal, especially 10-year-old Shotwell. There are specific scenes that require Shotwell to yell and break things. His performance feels raw and authentic. The audience keeps guessing right along with Eli. Haley (Sadie Sink) is a neighborhood girl from up the street. Her importance doesn’t become obvious until the twist is revealed. Until then, Haley seems like a morale booster for Eli. Sink’s performance is great, but that’s not surprising considering she plays a lead in Stranger Things. Taylor’s performance in Eli gives off a similar ambiance to her 2013 performance in The Conjuring. Although not completely similar, both performances are rooted in ghost activities. However, her specific role in Eli is inherently more sinister.
The horror aspect in Eli is good but not great. The haunted house/treatment facility looks strikingly similar to The Haunting at Hill House. The movie banks on the common tropes, like poorly lit hallways and unexplained ghosts chasing Eli down the hallway, but it works. The twist’s horror element seems a bit cartoonish and relies too heavily on CGI.
Overall, Eli is a fine movie to watch during Halloween weekend. Be on guard for the twist, though.