Eli (Charlie Shotwell) is living with autoimmune disease. His mother, Rose (Kelly Reilly) and his father, Paul (Max Martini) do everything they can to keep him safe, they sterilise everything in the house, keep Eli in a controlled environment and do their very best to make sure that the outside world doesn’t get in, making his condition worse.
Then one day Paul hears about a clinic led by a Dr. Horn (Lili Taylor) who claims that she can cure his condition. Overjoyed with the prospect of having a normal son, Eli’s parents drive him to the clinic immediately so they can start giving him the treatment that will make give him a better quality of life. However, once the treatment starts working, Eli starts seeing ghostly apparitions and the more treatments he has, the stronger the visions of the supernatural become. Also, Eli soon starts to believe that the doctors and his parents aren’t telling him the whole truth.
Eli is the second feature from director Cirian Foy who had the unenviable task of directing the sequel to atmospheric horror hit, Sinister. Keeping up with the creepy, atmospheric tone of his previous work, Eli sets the tone straight away as Foy shows Eli’s experiences living with his condition right from the word go – and they aren’t pretty.
Also, the setting for the clinic couldn’t be better suited, with its foggy surroundings and ominous, towering trees the movie tells the audience just what they’re getting from the start and there are plenty of scares to follow. The movie plays well as it guides the audience through Eli’s experiences, often relying on the tropes of what a protagonist in a horror movie usually shouldn’t do and Shotwell puts in a great performance.
From being jump scared by ghosts, frustrated by being ignored by those around him and leading up to a final twist that the audience may never see coming, Shotwell manages to carry the movie and his performance makes the audience feel the right things for him when he thinks all hope is lost.
The ending of the movie may divide some people, but I can safely say that it isn’t something the audience was expecting. For horror fans, the way the final scenes revel in its madness is something of a pleasure by how much the movie decides to build to a crescendo of unapologetic hyperbole.
Many may tire of the clichés and predictable jump scares that litter the movie, but for those who know exactly what they want from a horror movie and are not expecting to be blown away, Eli is enough fun to entertain its audience on a dark and stormy Halloween night.
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