Let’s go to the doctor.
Eli is another Netflix horror film (though this one also has about 30 other production companies behind it, including MTV films…) about a boy named Eli who has an autoimmune disorder that forces him to live in a bubble (literally).
Word of a new and unorthodox treatment promises to cure Eli, but things seem to go awry as the location he is staying at seems to hide some dark secrets.
As the family goes to the doctor, we are subjected to the worst people imaginable. Human beings can suck, but this one crosses beyond the pale as we have Eli bullied by adults as he is walking to the car. We also have a jackass hotel attendant over charge the family. These scenes are done only to force us to empathize with the family (who appear broke). I suppose the film didn’t trust the viewers enough to have any interest in a family with a sick child.
Much of this film is told in this heavy-handed way. Everything is forced onto you to push the viewing experience down a certain track. It is like they didn’t trust the viewers to think for themselves.
The film looks fine. We have a well-lit, albeit washed out, look to the scenes. The old manor where the treatment occurs is appropriately drab, and the characters look like a family (not sure how this is screwed up so much, but it is). The framing and lighting do well to give us a foreboding feeling as well.
Where the film drops the balls is poor sound mixing. Viewing this on headphones was a chore as I had to adjust the volume numerous times. Sound effects are sharply above most of the dialogue, and often times side noise distracts from the dialogue. The dialogue is often understated, sometimes mumbled, and without subtitles I think I would have missed a bit. Further, sometimes the voices are so piercingly loud that it reminds me of falling asleep and being interrupted by a television show.
The pacing of the film works well. We have our characters established (albeit heavy-handedly) within fifteen minutes and more or less get the gist of the story.
The little scenes of the family bonding work quite well. It is too bad these are also accompanied by forced crap throughout. A lot of this film is two steps forward and one step back, but overall this does average to a large step forward from most of Netflix’s current content. However, does that make this a good film?
I might be beating a dead horse here, but the film is just so damn heavy-handed there is no sense of surprise. They try so hard to make sure that things seem just a bit off and add in just enough small hints that the twist doesn’t seem out of nowhere despite being pretty underwhelming. Once we figure out what is going on it is more of a “Oh, another?” than anything else.
So, yes, the whole thing is hinged on a twist. I don’t think you can fully see it coming, but that doesn’t mean it makes the movie better. It is competently made, which makes it better than most Netflix produced ventures. It is an interesting movie, but it isn’t scary. Folks interested in the premise will probably like this one well-enough, but it certainly isn’t a must see.