(Eli) 2019: A Review

Sometimes, twist endings are worse.

In the 2019 Netflix-release “Eli”, we follow the titular character Eli and his family. Eli is an eleven-year-old preteen that has an unnamed allergy to the outside, where exposure to foreign biological agents will cause him to go into anaphylactic shock.

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He is unable to interact with the outside and must live in a protected suit. His mother Rose and father Paul take him to an isolated clinic, run by the eccentric Dr. Horne and her two orderlies.

The clinic is an enormous, ancient house, where all of the air is filtered and the only way in or out is through a decontamination room.

At first, the story seems like a typical “haunted house” fodder. As Eli undergoes “treatment” that supposedly replaces his bone-marrow with healthier cells, strange occurrences happen.

He sees the phantom of a little girl with a contorted spine, and the apparitions of children roaming the halls. Of course, the staff and his parents write these visions off as hallucinations.

While all this is going on, Eli bonds with a girl who comes to visit the Horne estate, Haley. Haley speaks to Eli through an abandoned atrium in the house, because she is barred from entering the mansion. Haley urges Eli to leave, arguing that she has never seen a child leave the house after the final treatment.

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As the treatments continue, the ghosts get more hands-on, and at one point give chase to Eli and try to pull him outside of the house without his suit. Eli, not one to be deterred, starts digging around Dr. Horne’s files, where he discovers the graphic, mutilated bodies of children past, all with his same condition.

Every single one of her patients died horribly after Treatment #3, for which they are preparing Eli.

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After discovering the files, a chase between Eli, Dr. Horne, and his parents ensues, and suddenly he finds himself in a dirt-filled basement adorned with ritualistic symbols.

In a secret chamber, the bodies of the children are found, and this is when the movie takes a turn for insanity.

The Satanic Panic

While he’s locked in the basement dungeon for being a terrible child, his mother reveals that Eli never had an autoimmune disorder. The whole thing was a cover for him to receive his ‘real’ treatment; an exorcism.

They manage to get Eli back in the operating room, where Doctor Horne reveals she is in the clergy.

The exorcism backfires exponentially, and, unleashing his full power, Eli kills the Good Doctor, her orderlies, and his own father when he tries to stab him with a knife.

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Afterward, Eli learns the truth of his past. His mother, Rose, prayed for a son, and when God didn’t deliver on that front, she (obviously) went to the next best bet; the Devil.

The Devil promised Rose that her son would be chill, but just in case, she brought him to Dr. Horne to get rid of any sort of side effects being a half-demon might come with.

So it turns out that all the dead kids Eli was seeing around the house were his half-brothers and sisters. The exorcism, or “Stage Three” went horribly wrong and ostensibly, they hung around to warn the new kid of his impending doom.
The film ends with Eli, his mother, and Haley, who is revealed to be his half-sister, going on a road trip to meet Satan.

….Hmmm.

So, in total transparency, horror movies about Satan/The Devil are my least favorite kind, so I was super disappointed when the ending twist was revealed. Honestly, I think I would’ve liked this film more if Horne was just a regular “evil doctor” rather than a clergywoman, or if they lead Eli to this place under the guise of curing his illness to suppress some kind of world-ending power he possessed. Like, more of a Brightburn situation.

So, I’ve got a couple questions…

One: if they’re the half-kids of the Devil himself, doesn’t that make them part angel or demon or whatever? They acted like normal ghosts through the movie; jump scaring the protagonist, being cryptic instead of just giving Eli straightforward answers.

I’m not up to date on my biblical lore, but I’d think that being the kid of Satan would give you some extra perks, even in death.

Two: The movie even points out its own plot-holes. After Eli busts out and burns the mansion to the ground, he asks his sister why she couldn’t just let him know ahead of time.

She responds with a playful “Dad [Satan] says you have to prove yourself”. Why? Is it not enough to be the devil’s offspring?

Three: How in the world did Eli’s parents get in touch with Dr. Horne? Like, what could they have possibly Googled to find this kind of place? How does Dr. Horne have the resources or the funding to keep this operation going? Is the Catholic Church paying for it, maybe?

“Eli”, for all its twists and turns is still predictable Netflix horror fodder. There’s a lot of loud scares involving ghost children.

It’s not terrible, though, and to give it credit, I paid enough attention to it because I was interested in where the plot would lead. Would I give it a re-watch? Maybe to see what little hints to the ending they spread out in the film.