As far as releasing scary content, Netflix has been on a roll this year. For a while, I’ve been thinking it would take them a while to top off what they achieved with Marianne. To my surprise, they actually surpassed themselves and my expectations with Eli.
Scare factor aside, the film also has a great premise and might also prove to be a reboot we’ve been looking for. Now hold on, just hear me out. I know the premise if Eli is unique but the ultimate twist ending makes it a perfect reboot to the Demon movies revolutionized by The Exorcist and The Omen. How do you ask? Well, let’s find out. But beware! A spoiler alert is in order. You’ve been warned.
Eli: The Protagonist
There isn’t anything more innocent than childhood. Children are naive and trust almost everybody which makes them more prone to danger. Also, their small and weak stature makes them more vulnerable. Naturally, when a child leads a story, we invariably relate to it and sympathize with it. The first take away from Eli is that the story is told from the point of view of the kid and we learn about his surroundings as he learns about them. Generally, in any particular type of horror movie like sci-fi, Slasher or Zombie the leas are played by a man or a woman, grown-ups who can easily adapt themselves with situations. Demon films are the only ones that affect the child first. So, if we see any kid being haunted by a malevolent entity, it scares us to death.
Eli, along with the greats in the sub-genre, focuses on the young boy’s medical condition and his motivations to fight for a cure or even survival. In the film, Eli is severely allergic to… everything. His parents take him to stay at a “clean house” to Dr. Horn who promises to cure him. She’s has done this before, we are told. But Eli finds something shifty about the place and the doctor in question. He’s soon visited by ghosts who are trying to tell him something. His condition gets worse day by day and the treatment is not working. The only solace he finds is in the girl next door who warns him about the place. And we feel for the poor boy as we did in The Omen or The Exorcist.
The Distraught Parents Of Eli
Of course, when there’s a child involved the parent angle has to be there. The stressed parents play us, the audience as we too are worried about the kid. Take Insidious for example, or The Exorcist. The parents have played a vital role in keeping the viewers hooked and concerned for the munchkin in question. Parents are supposed to be the guardian angel of the child and when they’re unable to do anything about the boy (or girl)’s demon problem our concern for the minor only escalates. This is a classic storytelling method of any demon movie you can think of. Hence, we believe Eli can be a great reboot to the demon sub-genre.
Eli And The Divine Intervention
They say you can’t believe in God without believing in the devil. Being an atheist I believe in neither, but I’m digressing! Now when there’s an all-powerful malevolent entity trying to possess your child, there has to be an all-powerful force to counter it, or at least it’s an agent. All demon movies have a Godman (or woman) to fight the evil force at work. We had father Merrin in The Exorcist, Father Brennan in The Omen and Elise Rainier in Insidious. Eli also has such a mysterious character named Dr. Horn. You would think in the beginning that she has some ulterior motive to kill Eli but later on in the film, you realise that she’s the good guy, a nun who’s trying to save Eli. From whom? Read on.
Who’s Your Daddy Eli?
Simple narratives are a thing of the past apparently as most of today’s horror movies come with a convoluted plot and a twist ending to bend the minds of the audience. Eli is no different. Where The Exorcist narrated the story of an out and out evil demon possessing an innocent, young girl and where Insidious followed a similar plot where a number of evil entities trying to enter the human world through the poor boy, Eli follow the story of the namesake boy who’s told that he’s allergic to the outside world and is taken to the “clean house” to Dr. Horn who promises to cure him.
But by the end, it is revealed that Eli’s mother has been unfaithful to her husband and fornicated with literal Devil to have a son. So Eli is the son of the Devil! And Dr. Horn was just trying to exorcise the evil out of him as she tried to do with her previous “patients” but failed. She just didn’t realise that her efforts are futile as Eli is not possessed by evil, he IS the evil.
But by the end, it is revealed that Eli’s mother has been unfaithful to her husband and fornicated with literal Devil to have a son (#mindblown). So Eli is the son of the Devil! And Dr. Horn was just trying to exorcise the evil out of him as she tried to do with her previous “patients” but failed. She just didn’t realise that her efforts are futile as Eli is not possessed by evil, he IS the evil.
Eli realises that he’s not sick. Rather his parents have kept him isolated from the world. But when Eli invariably uses his evil powers to hang Dr. Horn and her nurses upside down like an inverted crucifix (signifying The Antichrist) his mother tells him the truth. As he comes to know of his actual identity Eli burns the “clean house” down along with his (step)father and takes his mother with him. He finds the girl next door outside waiting for him, who’s also his half-sister from another mister! The three drive off to meet Eli’s father, Satan. The film’s ending gives a sort of Omenish vibe and finally, we’re able to put the dots together.
Our Final Word on Eli
Eli is a great mind-bending film with a great twist ending. It tricks us to root for the devil and antagonize the righteous as in The Omen where we felt for Damien till the end. Both the films left us in utter shock and disbelief as we don’t want the evil to win. The film can prove to be a landmark in reboots, quite different from the lame remakes we’ve been witnessing lately.