Written By: CM
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Ciarán Foy
Producers: Trevor Macy, John Zaozirny
Writers: David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing
Date Released: October 18, 2019
Charlie Shotwell as Eli Miller
Kelly Reilly as Rose Miller
Max Martini as Paul Miller
Lili Taylor as Dr. Isabella Horn
Sadie Sink as Haley
Rating = 2/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
In a desperate attempt to find a cure for young boy Eli’s rare disease that causes allergic reactions to outdoor particles, his parents take him to a secluded, quarantined facility run by a mysterious Dr. Isabella Horn. Just when Eli starts getting used to a better living condition, he realizes the house might be filled with specters trying to warn him about Dr. Horn—and only his unusual neighbor Haley believes him.
There’s not much gore—or anything remotely scary—throughout the whole film until the disturbing (and confusing) last 15 minutes. If you want to see floating nuns, crucifixes, and brain surgeries, this film offers a few sub-par scary tricks.
The Grave Review
The story of a kid allergic to everything has been recycled and twisted into different genres for quite a time now. In the end, it’s always the same: the person turns out to be perfectly healthy and their clingy parents just wanted to keep them safe. It’s been done as a comedy in Bubble Boy and even romance in Everything, Everything. This time, Sinister 2 and Citadel director Ciarán Foy revamps the same plot into a horror film—and it was definitely confusing as hell.
Eli (2019) plays with the viewers’ heads for the most of its running time. It keeps people guessing as to whether it’s a paranormal film, a psychological thriller, or a mystery drama. For the most part, it’s quite entertaining until one realizes how slow-paced and monotonous it really is. The entertainment value of the film hangs onto how confusing it is. With its scattered clues and many plot possibilities, the ending could go anywhere. Hence, it was just confusing and underwhelming despite having a revelation that is completely unpredictable.
An accurate description of what the plot twist felt like is that the scriptwriters just crossed everything out and went in a completely unrelated direction just for the sake of being unpredictable. In the end, it just failed in any genre it tried to fit into. A good mystery has an aha moment; Eli was just filled with even more questions (a strategy for a sequel demand, maybe?). A psychological thriller requires a high level of realism and the whole Bubble Boy plot simply isn’t convincing. Lastly, a horror movie, well, needs to be scary.
The ending scene with Eli (2019) and his mom driving off with Haley as the house burns down was just anticlimactic. The idea of them driving into hell and saying hi to his dad, the devil himself, is just funny. It was almost like watching Percy Jackson.
There was also nothing notable about the actors’ performances, although props must be given to Charlie Shotwell for being able to pull off such a confusing character at a young age. The tricks and effects weren’t impressive as well as they were ineffective, borderline cheesy, and just came in too late for people to care.
Overall, Eli (2019) is a cheesy attempt to cash in on the hype of cult stories. Unlike Hereditary and Get Out, the Netflix film just didn’t make sense and didn’t bother creating a complex script that actually forms a coherent and consistent story. It was a click bait for horror fans. Perhaps it would belong more in the category where Percy Jackson belongs. After all, it’s basically just a Christian version of the Logan Lerman-led young adult favorite, except with Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and cliché exorcisms.
As such for these reasons, Grave Reviews gives Eli (2019) two graves out of fives graves.
Do you agree with our review? You may also like our review of the 2019 film, Bloodline.