Since I closely follow what is happening in the horror industry, it was no secret to me that the new horror film “Eli” in the finale will turn out to be completely different from what the viewer thinks. Of course, I tried to avoid spoilers, but while watching, I tried to guess what the authors would throw out in order to surprise me. I didn’t guess, the twist really turned out to be unexpected – from The Haunting of Hill House the film turned into The Exorcist or even The Omen. Well, this is another reason to turn on the mode of a film expert in civilian clothes and make out a horror-shifter that famously mixed genre clichés that are not the most compatible at first glance.
What happens before the final twist?
The plot of the picture revolves around a boy named Eli and his family. Eli suffers from a certain autoimmune disease that does not allow the child to be outside a sterile environment – because of this, the hero is forced to live in an airtight “tent”, and move only in a “space suit” that isolates him from the external environment. Eli’s parents find a geneticist, Dr. Horn, who is ready to help the patient, but for treatment, he must arrive at her country laboratory. The doctor plans to perform three procedures to influence Eli’s genes, but after two operations he gets worse, moreover, he begins to see the ghosts of other patients of Dr. Horn who did not survive after the procedures. While trying to escape, Eli discovers a secret room with an altar and a pit of corpses, and before realizing what is happening, the boy is locked in a cell. He is exposed to the air from the street and his skin begins to blister, but the boy does not die because he does not have any autoimmune disease…
So why is he sick?
Eli is not sick – he is “only” the son of the Devil. This is the twist of the picture: Dr. Horne is not a geneticist at all, more precisely, she is a nun who is trying to “heal” the children of Satan from their innate properties through genome editing. Unfortunately, earlier Horn did not succeed – the corpses of the doctor’s previous “patients” are discovered first by Eli, and then by his mother Rose. Three children who underwent “procedures” died, and then their corpses were buried under the altar so that their souls could not harm others (the method turned out to be not very effective – the ghosts of the patients attacked Eli several times). Rose in the final picture said that the real father of Eli was the Devil – the woman could not get pregnant for a long time, and when she despaired of getting God’s help, she turned to his opponent. The devil promised that the child would not inherit demonic traits, but, as usual, deceived. This, by the way, explains the emphatically cold attitude of Paul, Eli’s father, to his son – the man, firstly, knew the origin of his child, and secondly, he wanted to complete the ceremony at any cost.
Accordingly, the “treatment” in the closed hospital was a mixture of medical intervention and exorcism – Eli received holy water through a drip, and with injections he was injected with an extract of the tannis root, a plant that supposedly suppresses the manifestations of the demonic. When it becomes apparent that the “cure” hasn’t worked, Dr. Horne decides to perform the ritual of killing the child with a sacred dagger, but Eli, using supernatural powers, stops both the nuns and Paul. After setting fire to the house in which he was almost killed, Eli leaves the hospital, leaving only Rose alive.
Who is Hailey?
By the way, I did not mention the only ally of Eli who supported the boy throughout the time that he was with Dr. Horn. Hayley, a red-haired girl who occasionally came to chat with the boy from the very beginning, is of great interest. She is definitely not an ordinary local girl with nothing to do, she knows exactly where Eli lives and throws stones at his window, she performs a trick with a burning branch, she says that Dr. Horus does not let her in, but she knows for sure that the rest “patients” also saw ghosts, finally, she suggests that the characters “317” are the code for the lock of the door that locks the laboratory building. I tried to guess who she was, but my guess was wrong. In the ending, Hayley is revealed to be another child of the devil, who managed to avoid meeting Dr. Horne. She could not tell the truth about herself and the origin of Eli, because their common father believes that each of his children must independently go through the path of understanding their strengths and their place in the world. But now she is ready to take Eli to the Devil, and Rose will become their personal driver.
And why did Eli experience pain and anguish on the street?
There is one detail in the movie that is not explained clearly enough and at first glance looks like a plot hole – if Eli did not have an autoimmune disease, then why did his skin start to “burn” when he was on the street. There are two things to understand here. First – by and large, we do not really see the manifestation of this disease. There is an episode at the very beginning when Eli runs through the field, and then falls and starts to “melt”, but then it turns out that this is just a dream. There is a scene with a torn space suit that ends with just a panic attack. When Eli really becomes covered in blood, he already acquires a devilish essence, so there is every reason to believe that the manifestations of the disease were imposed on the boy by his parents, they simply frightened him.
Another explanation is a certain religious environment inside the hermetic shelters of Eli. We know that Rose was very religious, so it was quite possible for her to create a certain atmosphere inside the “tent” and “suit”, something like “holy air”, so that the essence of Eli did not manifest. Thus, the stage of the boy’s transition to a new form of his development was stopped. So when Eli left the burning clinic, his skin blistered and his eyes were filled with fire, but then everything went away and his appearance returned to normal. Eli has become like Hayley – he seems normal, but inside he hides a dangerous demonic essence, ready to break out if necessary. And it is better not to see the reasons for such a need, and even more so the consequences of Eli’s rage…
In conclusion, I want to note that the film looks very good, it has enough dynamics, there is a well-thought-out mystery, and the usual issues are resolved in non-trivial ways. Not a masterpiece, but it was nice to see. I hope that this year there will be a couple of horror films that I would also like to talk about.