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‘Eli’: great idea, flawed execution

Eli (Charlie Shotwell) has a condition where he gets allergic conditions from the outdoors. Dr. Isabella Horn (Lili Taylor) claims she can cure him.

What could have been a great horror film in “Eli”, was regressed by poor writing and mundane performances.

Directed by Ciarán Foy, “Eli” is about a boy named Eli (Charlie Shotwell) who suffers from a rare disease that causes him to have severe allergic reactions to the outdoors. To combat his unusual disorder, Eli’s parents take him to a doctor (Lili Taylor) who claims she can cure his disease. However, as Eli’s treatments begin, the sinister nature behind his “disease” begins to come to light.

Of all the Netflix Original films I’ve seen, this was one of the more “unique” films, for lack a better word.

“Eli” used a multitude of religious connotations throughout the film that were reminiscent of past iconic horror films, such as “The Omen” and “The Exorcist.” These religious motifs add to the eeriness of “Eli.”

To avoid saying too much and spoiling the whole film, I will say that the plot-twist that occurs in the final third of the film also complemented, even completed the creepy tone of the film, adding to the overall intensity of the narrative.

However, this film suffers from poor writing, especially the dialogue and awkward performances.

A lot of the dialogue, especially in the first half of the film, feels as if the writers shoehorned the script at the last minute. The conversations held between the characters, specifically with Eli and his parents, did not feel like an authentic, organic conversation people would have with each other.

This poor execution in the script caused the performances to feel awkward. I don’t think the actors gave lackluster performances, but rather were trying their best to work with what they were given.

Despite the flaws that “Eli” carries, though, there are positive takeaways.

I liked the idea behind the premise, which I can’t fully explain because I would spoil the film in doing so.

The visuals during the “creepier” scenes were well done and served their purpose.

Lastly, the final third of the film is the saving grace of “Eli” because the climax of film not only tied together the loose ends in the plot that were presented throughout the film, but also delivered an intense, yet somewhat satisfying final act.

“Eli” is by no means a perfect film. It is a little disappointing because the film has a lot of potential to become a well-rounded horror film that, unfortunately, felt unfinished because of the writing.

Therefore, because of its need for some further polishing, “Eli” is nothing more than a decent horror film.

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelOrtegaNews.

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About the Contributor
Angel Ortega, A&E Editor
Angel Ortega is a journalism-news major with a minor in cinema studies. Angel has been on the Orion for four years, serving as both a staff writer and arts & entertainment editor. He enjoys writing artist profiles and film reviews. When he’s not working for the Orion, you can find him at a concert or music festival.

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