Its Halloween week so Netflix made a good call in releasing thir Netflix original movie Eli on the lead up to the season of scares. It already had a great trailer that got me curious about the movie before its release. Mind you, that even though the concept is similar to Jake Gyllenhaal’s Bubble Boy, Eli is nowhere close to the 2001 romantic comedy.
Synopsis: Eli (Charlie Shotwell) is allergic to the outside world, but his parents don’t know what actually triggers his life threatening illness. He needs to wear a Hazmat suit at all times and he cannot step out of his isolation tent because he breaks out in hives with the slightest sign of contamination. As a last resort, his parents take him a remote location where Dr. Isabella Horn’s (Lilli Taylor) unorthodox methods have “cured” those who suffer similar conditions as Eli. Here, he meets a mysterious neighbor (Sadie Sink) who visits him at night and tells him about Dr. Horn’s other patients.
First off, I liked director Ciaran Foy’s approach to the unraveling of Eli‘s story. He methodically laid out all of the elements and teased audiences with little clues to figure out what was actually happening in Dr. Horn’s compound. Why was Eli the only one haunted by the ghosts in the house? Was Dr. Horn a heroine or a villain? What were they doing to Eli with all the procedures and what were the ghosts trying to tell Eli in the first place? Foy plants all the seeds at the right time, and gradually sheds light into their role in the story, making sense of the unexpected twist in the end.
I must admit that I was a bit distracted by the fact that Lilli Taylor is once again trapped inside an old house, which reminded me of her movie The Haunting (the film version of The Haunting of Hill House). Speaking of The Haunting of Hill House, Eli‘s approach to horror was actually quite similar to the Netflix original series. I liked how the hauntings were executed, which is a huge credit to the special effects team. They did not go over the top and used jump scares sparingly, baiting audiences with prolonged silences that built up to the climax. The approach was creepy, dark and accentuated by eerie background music that underscored Eli‘s feeling of terror and confusion.
The cinematography, was also masterful. This made the shots and the transitions so engaging for audiences who are already hooked to the plot and the mystery.
The young cast led by Charlie Shotwell did exceedingly well. He was able to make audiences care about his character and feel for him, especially during the time he felt trapped and alone inside the house. He also impressively pulled off the transition in his character after the main twist was revealed. Stranger Things‘ Sadie Sink didn;t have to do much but her presence was enough to get audiences thinking. This was the advantage of starring in a hit Netflix series and Eli used it to perfection.
Eli was a solid addition to Netflix’s original horror films. While it was not an entirely original concept to blow audiences’ minds, it knew what it wanted to achieve and did not stray the course with excessive bravado. It just delivered a well executed horror movie that shocked and scared in all the right places. That’s all we can ask for.