ELI (2019) reviews and overview

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Eli is a 2019 American horror feature film about a boy with an auto-immune disorder who discovers that the house he’s living isn’t as safe as he thought.

Directed by Ciarán Foy (The Wilding; Sinister 2; Citadel) from a screenplay written by David Chirchirillo (Bad Match; 616: Paranormal Incident) and Ian Goldberg (The Autopsy of Jane Doe), the movie stars Kelly Reilly, Max Martini, Lili Taylor and Charlie Shotwell. It was co-produced by Trevor Macy (Doctor Sleep; Gerald’s Game; Hush; Oculus; et al), director Mike Flanagan’s filmmaking partner.


A young boy, Eli (Charlie Shotwell), is plagued with an unknown, debilitating illness that requires him to live completely sealed off from the outside world. After exhausting every option, his parents (Kelly Reilly and Max Martini) put their trust – and his life – in the hands of a doctor (Lili Taylor) whose experimental, cutting edge treatments at her clean house facility may hold Eli’s last hope.

As Eli undergoes the tremendously intense process that could potentially cure him, he begins to be haunted by experiences that make him question who he can trust and what is lurking inside the house.

Reviews [may contain spoilers – click links to read more]:

“The ending is something that took me by surprise as I was getting a little bored with the film and was just waiting for it to wrap up. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere Eli goes in a completely different direction and the plot introduces a whole bunch of new ideas to the viewer. These new ideas were actually very interesting.” Au Resident Entertainment

“We see so many glossy, commercial haunted house movies, and while Eli both looks and often feels like one, it does something those movies rarely do, which is to catch us entirely off-guard by the end. Eli goes to some admirably nuts places, and I’m always here for a ridiculous final act…” Bloody Disgusting

“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.” BRWC

“When it comes down to its scary moments, there is nothing exceptionally disturbing or even outstanding. If you have been a long-time horror fan like me, you will be not sitting with your hands clasped. Though, what will really blow your socks off is its quirky and unexpected ending. Overall, Eli is a perfect Friday night watch!” The Cinemaholic

” …it’s the inventive twist in the third act that leads Eli into a truly diabolical direction you won’t see coming and transforms it from a generic spook-fest with an enigmatic touch of mystery to a devilishly terrifying shocker that will validly prove you so wrong about how predictable it looks.” CineMarvellous!

“The first concrete hints regarding what’s really happening don’t drop until over an hour into the runtime, and that’s only if eagle-eyed viewers notice the wink-wink names written on admission papers. Full beans spill just ten minutes before end credits. That’s a long meantime to recycle routine scenes of Eli screaming at ghosts while everyone else assures him the horror is in his head.” Culture Crypt

“With almost no hint of its grand reveal beforehand, Eli’s major twist comes completely out of leftfield and feels unearned, just like its scares. It’s a laughable turn into early 2000s horror territory that stamps all over the way the characters have been established, particularly Eli’s parents.” Cultured Vultures

“For me, Eli is not nearly as good as the previous movies of the writers. While this Netflix horror movie does have a lot of gorgeous horror elements, the actual plot misses the mark for me in too many ways. Still, I must admit I was very entertained!” Heaven of Horror

“The majority of the special effects were great, except for the close-ups of the ghosts, but that’s bound to happen when CGI is so heavily used. I won’t spoil it for you, but the twist at the end is something you will never see coming […] While Eli does have its flaws, all around, it’s a great flick that I recommend you checking out.” Horror Fuel

“The makeup effects are, also, pretty decent for the most part and, despite the overabundance of jump-scares, one of them is quite creative in the way it’s executed and, thus, rather scary. Given its satisfying conclusion, Eli has a concept that’s full of potential, which is revealed in some scenes sprinkled throughout the runtime.” Horror World & Reviews

“The kid was already impressive, for he picked a lock and fought off several demons, but he saves his best for last, and we soon learn that’s because of his parentage. Foy crafts a scary environment, leans on a splendid score, and makes a film that people will enjoy, even if it’s far from perfect cinema.”  Ready Steady Cut!

“An admittedly unexpected third-act twist does provide some late-in-the-game context to the otherwise hands-off storyline […] and yet there’s little doubt that Eli has, unfortunately, long-since confirmed its place as a fairly monotonous and hopelessly underwhelming straight-to-streaming endeavor.” Reel Film Reviews

“Foy milks a lot of unsettling material merely from the secrets that his film holds until the final scenes, but that’s a cheap trick more than it is creative screenwriting or filmmaking. We have no real idea what’s going on through most of Eli, which results in a film that is more often confusing than frightening.” RogerEbert.com

“I tend to give a film credit when it takes me in a direction I wasn’t expecting. Even more so when it’s clear that direction was planned well in advance; the climax was exactly the kind of cheesy, entertaining, over the top stuff that this columnist lives for, the antidote to an all-too-typically stale subgenre.” Rue Morgue

” …most of the film, you are strung along to the point you may begin to lose interest after a while. However, as Eli starts getting curious and fighting back, the move stops cruises and hits you with some nitro. So as long as you were still there with the movie up until the point it gets ready to reveal all, you’ll be fine. Overall: Positive” Wherever I Look


Eli was initially streamed on Netflix from October 18th 2019, as part of their ‘Netflix and Chills’ season.

Cast and characters:

Kelly Reilly … Eli’s mom
Charlie Shotwell … Eli
Max Martini … Paul
Lili Taylor … Doctor Isabella Horn
Sadie Sink … Haley
Jared Bankens … Gang Leader
Austin Foxx … Perry
Parker Lovein … Lucius
Katia Gomez … Nurse Mary
Deneen Tyler … Nurse Barbara
Nathaniel Woolsey … Punk #1
Mitchell de Rubira … Punk #2
Kaleb Naquin … Punk #3

Production companies:

Intrepid Pictures
Bellevue Productions
Paramount Players

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