Eli – An unfortunate twist that leaves the movie making no sense

This past weekend, I watched two movies. One of them, Coherence, is a few years old now, so I guess most people have seen it. (It was excellent and worth watching if, like me, you missed it. Heck, it’s worth watching even if you’ve seen it before.) The other was Netflix’s Eli, which I thought looked worthwhile from the trailer.

It wasn’t. Spoilers follow. You have been warned.

The premise seemed interesting. A boy has to live in a plastic bubble, or makeshift spacesuit when going out, because he’s so ill, exposure to the world will kill him. He gets taken to a spooky old house and has a friend outside, in Sadie Sink, made famous in Stranger Things as the newest cast member and red haired girl who joined the cast in Season 2… seen in the trailer getting his attention by throwing stones on the windows from outside.

Except right off the bat, the movie doesn’t make much sense. Knowing that this was made by the producers of the Haunting of Hill House, I knew there’d be clues throughout. And sure enough, there were…

Some of the clues:

  • Some hillbilly types at the gas station mock him in his spacesuit at the start, and he “makes a wish” for his mother (something she does to calm him down kind of like Martha Kent calms little Clark in Man of Steel), and he wishes he could mess them up (I forget the exact words because I only watched it once), hinting at a hidden darker nature.
  • They rock up at the secluded spooky house, and the Sadie Sink character, who obviously doesn’t live there, is just hanging out in the yard, even though it’s in the middle of fucking nowhere. Not out of place at all.
  • They walk in the house, greeted by Lili Taylor as Dr Horn, and two seriously creepy nurses who stare suspiciously at the boy, making it quite clear that they are obviously not nurses.
  • In a conversation between Eli’s parents, she mentions needing to have faith, and he replies sarcastically, “I’ve always been faithful”. Too much emphasis on the word and obvious double-meaning.
  • Then the ghosts start to show up, in a trope that I am too lazy to look up but that one where the spooks are there to help kiddo realize the true nature of the house and that they are former “patients” who died at the hands or doctor Horn.
  • Another scene features his parents sitting at the base of a staircase, with her praying and he comments, “Do you think praying will help us?”

After that, the movie tries really hard to convince you that there isn’t a plot twist coming. Dr Horn and her two minions carry out bizarre medical procedures on the kid, and the movie limps along with him getting clues from the ghosts and the girl outside who mostly just hangs around, but also warns him that the last patient disappeared after medical procedure number 3. Convenient as he’s just had procedure 2.

Eventually it turns out –  surprize surprize – that Dr Horn is really some kind on super nun. He’s not really sick. His mother, having given up on god after praying to him for a child with no success, eventually prayed to the devil. So Eli is literally the Son of Satan. Da da daaaah! I kid you not!

The problem with this twist, though it seems to make sense at the time, is that since the “doctor” was not really a doctor, the medical procedures she did make no sense at all. The twist renders the whole movie plot pointless. It wasn’t an exorcism because they couldn’t remove who he is… so what the fuck were they doing? Nobody knows, and this is one case where the plot twist is so “clever”, it’s stupid, and makes the movie a joke.

On the whole, the movie wasn’t a bad watch. It was entertaining, but for something with such a twist, terribly predictable. And the twist kind of messed up everything that happened before it.

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