If you love a good psychological thriller then Eli is for you. This isn't your usual slasher, blood and guts horror, it is far more subtle. Think more along the lines of The Haunting Of Hill House for that creepy undertone that is peppered with jumps and scares and that will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Eli (Charlie Shotwell) is an eleven-year-old boy who suffers from a gene disorder. That means any contact with air, dust or the environment, in general, could kill him. He exists in a bubble and even venturing outside means having to wear a full hazmat suit. Having tried everything to help cure him, Eli's parents have finally found a geneticist who claims she can cure him.
So almost broke and with no other options, Eli and his parents head off to the ‘clean house' where Dr. Horn (Lili Taylor) has promised to work miracles. Instantly the scene is set. The desolate old house has the appropriate level of creepiness complete with swirling fog. But surprisingly once inside, Dr. Horn and her two nurses seem quite lovely and charming.
And that's where Eli gets you. Yes, there are plenty of creepy goings-on like the ghosts of children roaming the halls. But is the house just haunted? Or is the therapy simply causing Eli to hallucinate? Dr. Horn seems genuinely caring, as do Eli's parents who are played by Kelly Reilly (Calvary) and Max Martini.
In that respect, the movie sucks you in because you know it can't just be about a haunted house. So what is the real story behind Eli? I'm not going to tell you, no spoilers here, but suffice to say I was hooked. And very, very surprised by the dramatic turn the movie took towards the end. Director Ciarán Foy definitely created a proper old-school twist and ramped up the terror that has been bubbling throughout the film.
Charlie Shotwell is incredible as Eli. Utterly believable throughout, his performance as the haunted and confused child was absolutely gripping. So overall, Eli gets a massive thumbs up! And if you still want more psychological horror then check out His House.