Netflix released a new horror film – the long-awaited “Eli” which the film company Paramount Pictures could not show in theaters and sold to the streaming service in December 2018. The horror is about a boy who suffers from an unusual and severe autoimmune disease and is unable to live outside of a sterile environment. But the fantastic thriller about experiments with the genome suddenly turned out to be a completely different story, dedicated to the eternal struggle of two main forces. What is Kieran Foy’s painting really about? What was shown in the final and how should the ending be understood? What is the real meaning of what is shown? Let’s understand the plot and its intricacies together.
First, a little about history. Parents, together with Eli, come to the closed experimental clinic of a geneticist who has developed a unique method for treating the most complex autoimmune diseases. It’s just not very clear what Dr. Horn actually does within the walls of a sterile and isolated from the outside world medical institution. In addition, the boy begins to be haunted by ghosts, opaquely hinting that those around him are lying (the authors of the horror repeatedly beat the name of the main character – Eli – and “lie” – LIE) or even want to kill him. Moreover, it is not very clear until the end whether a child can be trusted at least by his parents.
But the point is that Eli is not sick – in fact, he is the son of the Devil.
The most powerful and main plot twist (and spoiler!) of the film is that in the finale they show the terrible truth: Eli never suffered from any genetic disease, everything is in perfect order with the boy. He is simply the son of the Devil and generally one of the Antichrists. Oh yes, Satan has many children, but only a few survive to adulthood.
In fact, Dr. Horn is not a doctor at all, but one of the members of a religious Christian order engaged in the search and destruction of the devil’s offspring. There is no cure – teenagers who begin to show their paranormal abilities are simply killed during a religious ritual. And in fact, Eli’s body does not react to environmental stimuli, but to holy water and individual religious symbols.
In the basement of the “clinic”, Dr. Horne and her nuns henchmen hide the mummified bodies of the murdered children of the Devil. Rose, Eli’s mother, tells her son that she could not get pregnant for a very long time and was so desperate to ask God for a child that she eventually asked for help from the other side. And the Devil answered almost immediately. The woman made the deal because Satan promised her that the baby would be normal and not inherit certain “traits” of the baby. But, to the mother’s surprise, the Father of Lies deceived her.
It turns out that his parents have been deceiving Eli for several years and hiding him from the outside world. Apparently, at the first manifestations of the true nature of the child, they contacted Dr. Horn and over the years tried to remove the “symptoms” of his origin. And when it didn’t work out, they decided on a complex combination of medical experiments and an exorcism rite in order to cure the child. Well, or at least kill, but save his soul. Moreover, Rose did not know that her son could die as a result of the experiments – her husband Paul told her that the geneticist nun had successfully cured previous patients.
And this means that in order to keep Eli in a state of permanent illness and prevent him from manifesting superpowers, the parents and Dr. Horne used tanis root pills and injections of holy water. As soon as Eli stopped using drugs, he instantly recovered and learned to use hellish forces – easily and naturally.
At the end of the film, they show how the son of the Devil kills torturer nuns and his fake father, Paul. But Eli forgives his mother (Why? Well, she is also in many ways a victim of circumstances and did not know the whole truth) and, together with her and a new ally, goes to visit his real father. The big question is what is shown at the end of the film: the formation of the Antichrist involuntarily and the beginning of the End of the World, or a happy family reunion.
Who is Hailey? Eli’s half-sister who helps him become himself, heal and survive
Hayley, a teenage girl who performs fire tricks and can talk through soundproofing and laboratory glass, is also the daughter of Satan. And Eli’s half-sister. She cannot just take and help her brother, because her father strictly forbids interfering in her affairs. According to Hayley, the Devil is sure that his children should learn to cope with difficulties themselves. As a result, it turns out that there are several Antichrists on Earth and they are obtained only from those devilish offspring that survive and gain strength.
The ghosts of the dead children of the Devil are spared the need to obey their father in everything, so they help Eli from the very beginning. For example, they suggest that others are deceiving him, and they also give the code from Dr. Horn’s laboratory – 317. As a result, Eli survives and turns into a real demon. But he also avoids the sad fate of dead brothers and sisters due to the fact that he is initially stronger and smarter than others.
After Eli cracks down on the offenders and destroys the mansion with Horn’s dotcore lab, Hayley’s sister promises to help him find his real father. Happy end?
Why is Eli sick when he’s outside without a suit?
At the end of the film, we are told that Eli’s allergy to stimuli from the outside world is a hoax. In fact, the child never needed a protective suit or a sterile bladder to survive. For several years, he was tricked by his parents and Dr. Horn into inhaling “holy air” and swallowing tanis root capsules to keep him ill.
Although it is possible that his acute allergic reaction to the outside world was caused not so much by the experiments of religious fanatics as by the stage of growing up and realizing his true nature. After Eli leaves the laboratory building at the end, his demonic signs – burning eyes and red skin – disappear. In general, variations are possible here. But one thing is clear: there was no autoimmune disease from the very beginning, and the symptoms were caused by outside interference.
And why did Eli experience pain and anguish on the street?
There is one detail in the film that is not explained clearly enough and at first glance looks like a plot hole – if Eli did not have an autoimmune disease, then why did his skin start to “burn” when he was outside. There are two things to understand here. First – by and large, we do not really see the manifestation of this disease. There is an episode at the very beginning when Eli runs through the field, and then falls and begins to “melt”, but then it turns out that this is just a dream. There is a scene with a torn suit that ends with just a panic attack. When Eli really becomes covered in blood, he already acquires a devilish essence, so there is every reason to believe that the manifestations of the disease were imposed on the boy by his parents, they simply frightened him.
Another explanation is a certain religious environment inside the hermetic shelters of Eli. We know that Rose was very religious, so it was quite possible for her to create a certain atmosphere inside the “tent” and “suit”, something like “holy air”, so that the essence of Eli did not manifest. Thus, the stage of the boy’s transition to a new form of his development was stopped. So when Eli left the burning clinic, his skin was covered with blisters and his eyes were filled with fire, but then everything passed and his appearance returned to normal. Eli has become like Hayley – he seems normal, but inside he hides a dangerous demonic essence, ready to break out if necessary. And it is better not to see the reasons for such a need, and even more so the consequences of Eli’s rage…
Irony and reference in the title of the film
The fact is that “Elay” means not only the name of the main character, a variation of the word “Lie” (Lie) and an access code (317), but also the name of the Old Testament biblical prophet Elijah (Elijah). It turns out that the son of the Devil is called exactly the same as the revered Christian saint! Great Easter egg, to say the least.