Directed by: #CiaránFoy
A boy with a mystery illness questions his experimental treatment in an intriguing tale that spirals into an abyss of stupid.
Paramount reportedly offloaded the film to Netflix, as they allegedly couldn't market it. This uncertainty raises an eerie question as to the profitability of the genre, considering a major studio couldn't figure how to market a low-budget horror film. The Netflix supernatural horror flick centres a young boy, Eli (Charlie Shotwell), who suffers from a severe auto-immune disease, making him allergic to the outside world. Fortunately, his parents (Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) have found a possible solution. They travel to an isolated mansion to receive an experimental but promising treatment afforded by their scrimping and saving.
Eli begins to question the validity of the treatment, mistrusting Dr Horn's reassurances (Lili Taylor) as his encounters with night-time malevolence and demons grow more frequent in correspondence with the creaking of the pipes.
Are the ghosts trying to harm Eli? Or are they trying to help him...?
The film delicately dangles a few possibilities, gradually throwing in more jigsaw pieces as the puzzling story develops. The audience is lured into the mysterious nature of the plot, anticipating the reveal of the real motive behind the experimental treatment. Instead of exploring Eli's doubts, the film dives into stock horror tropes such as creepy corridor ambushes and abrupt reflections in mirrors and windows. Although there are very few striking or impressive shots, there is one unique shot where a vulnerable Eli is hyperventilating, with the camera zooming in and out with each inhale and exhale.
Director Ciarán Foy attempts to construct a solid scare falls flat, scattering the movie with a variety of familiar horror tropes. The frightening atmosphere deteriorates at an alarming rate as the film chugs along with poor pacing. The big reveal is messy and bonkers, with the script and narrative crumbling towards the end. The performances are weak, dragging the potential of the film. One pleasantly surprising portrayal was by Sadie Sink (Stranger Things), in her role as Haley, offering a sparkle of humour among the bland and dull.
Now we have a better idea as to why Paramount offloaded the movie to Netflix, suggesting that such productions are better suited for the small screen rather than a theatrical release. The first 45 minutes of the film is worth watching, but after this point feel free to multi-task or search for something else to watch. If you enjoy far fetched twists with weak foreshadowing and an empty ending, then 'Eli' is for you!