From the looks of it, Netflix’s ‘Eli’ seems a lot like a generic horror movie. But only when you start watching it, you realize that it packs in a lot more depth than you initially expected from it. The first half of the film haunts you with its scary moments and terrifying CG effects but also gives you a false sense of predictability where you firmly start believing that you already know what lies ahead.
But just when you thought, you have everything figured out, the film surprises you with unforeseeable twists and turns. Admittedly, the rate at which the twists are thrown at you in the final act, it can be a little hard to wrap your head around everything that’s going on-screen. So if you’ve seen the movie, you sure have several unanswered questions. Read on to find the answers to all the hows and whys.
Plagued with a severe debilitating illness that prevents him from having any exposure to the outside world, Eli, a young boy, spends most his off his time in a quarantined germ-free tent. Even when he does get a chance to head out of his home, he is forced to wrap himself in a vacuum suit to avoid any contact from potentially harmful substances. While he struggles to live a normal life, his parents try to look for options that could finally relieve him from his ailment. After extensive research, Eli’s father finds Doctor Horn who assures them that her experimental procedure will finally allow the boy to breath fresh air like every other normal person.
With an abundance of hopes and expectations, the family arrives at the isolated mansion of the Doctor where she not only starts to perform “gene therapy” on the young boy but also creates a clean environment for him where he can breathe without the use of his bodysuit. Everything seems to be going just fine when suddenly Eli starts to experience paranormal occurrences all around him. While the Doctor claims that all of it is just a side effect of all the medication that he is on, Eli starts to question the Doctor’s intentions.
Who is Haunting Eli?
In the first half of the film, as Eli begins to go through the medical procedure to cure his disease, he starts to experience all kinds of strange things around him where he sees dark horrifying shadows, moving furniture and ghoul-like figures that scare the living hell out of him. But the most significant out of all of these is the invisible force that breathes mist on his glass window. In one of the scenes, Eli breathes out some fog on his bedroom window and slowly spells out his name with his finger. This is when an invisible force rearranges the letters of his name to spell out “LIE”. This is pretty much the first incident where the film hints that the ghosts of the mansion who were seemingly trying to haunt Eli, are simply there to help him.
Another night, when Eli ventures out of his room into the dark, he again encounters the ghosts that have been haunting him for a while now and this time around, the frightening entities do not hold themselves back. Eli rushes inside his cupboard to get refuge but the ghosts bash its doors till it falls to the ground. When Eli finally comes out of it, he again finds the word “LIE” etched out on the wooden surface of the closet. But this time around, he ends up seeing it with a very different perspective and he notices how “ELI”, if inverted, becomes “173”. He later even discusses this with Haley (his neighbor) who gives him subtle hints that it could lead him to a room in the mansion. You also realize here that Haley is a lot more than just a plucky neighbor and could be related to the strange events of the mansion in someway.
Eli soon realizes that the numbers are actually access codes to the medical facility in the house. When the night gets darker, he sneaks into the facility. To his shock, he finds all the disturbing files of those who have previously been victims of the Doctor. All three victims had gone through a very similar experimental medical procedure and after the third round of the process, none of them had survived. Realizing that he has already gone through two stages, a sense of panic hits Eli and he also realizes that the ghosts who were haunting him all this while were actually the ghosts of these victims who wanted him to escape from the facility.
What Are Doctor Horn’s Intentions?
When Eli first enters the mansion, Doctor Horn seems like a warm figure who welcomes him to the place and exhibits a motherly aura. But when Eli starts to experience his first few outbursts of paranormal experiences, she calmly concludes that he’s just facing the side effects of his harsh treatment. Till this point, it becomes really hard to deduce if she’s actually trying to help the boy or she has some very sinister ulterior motives. Later when Eli breaks into her facility and finds the files of her old brutally murdered victims, her objective becomes clear. But what exactly is driving her to commit such atrocities on young “innocent” boys?
In an attempt to escape, Eli rushes to the Doctor’s room and shuts himself inside. This is when he finds a picture of Doctor Horn in which she is with a group of Nuns and in the background, the same mansion can be seen. By this point it is clear that the Doctor had no intention of curing anyone and is only driven by her delusional religious beliefs. Eli also finds a secret room that takes him down to a dimly lit basement that has a well right in the middle. This is when it hits him that he has been right all along and the Doctor is nothing but a psychotic Nun.
Unfortunately for Eli, the Doctor discovers him in the basement and decides to lock him there, but shockingly, his parents to do nothing to help him while he chokes on the “contaminated” air that again starts to trigger his disease. At this point, it seems like the Nun is living in her own delusional world where she believes that Eli is possessed by a demon of some sort and her medical procedure is nothing but an unorthodox exorcism technique. But again, things are not as simple as they may seem.
The Ending: What is the LIE?
Eli somehow manages to trick his mother later and ends up getting out of the basement. While he is making an attempt to escape the mansion again, his mother discovers dead bodies of all of the other kids who were victims of the Nun’s exorcisms. This is when she realizes that her son has been right all along.
Meanwhile, Eli meets Haley again who tells him that he is stronger than all the others and asks him to not be afraid of what lies ahead. If you were observant enough, you might have noticed that there are several scenes in the series where Eli shows signs of possessing supernatural abilities. There are a few scenes where every time he expresses extreme rage or fear, the lights of the mansion start to flicker and even the ones around him get mysteriously attacked by invisible forces. Even Haley shows similar capabilities when Eli is dragged back into the facility right in front of her eyes.
Eli is taken back to the surgery room and is forcefully tied down to a bed by his own father and the Nun’s assistants. This is when Eli’s mother enters with a knife in her hand and threatens to kill the Nun. But his father still seems to be convinced by the Nun’s beliefs and instead of confronting her, he hands her the dagger and asks her to do what she has to do. Claiming that she can save the boy’s soul, the Nun tells the boy that the sickness that he has does not come from the outside but resides deep inside him. With this, she begins to chant verses from the bible and sprinkles holy water on the boy’s body. And every time the holy water touches his skin, it burns him and he wails in pain.
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In a shocking twist, we realize that the boy is indeed a demonic entity and all this while, it wasn’t the Nun who was delusional, but it was the boy who believed that he was being treated for some auto-immune disease. This, for obvious reasons, also explains the boy’s supernatural abilities.
With a dagger in her hand, the Nun slowly makes her way to the boy to kill him, but as soon as she raises her hand to stab him, Eli reaches his true satanic potential and breaks free from his bed. As his skin turns into a bright shade of crimson and his iris turn red, he begins to lash out on the Nun and her assistants. Using his telekinetic abilities, he takes control over the bodies of the Nuns and turns them into inverted crosses.
As they hover in circles around the room, Eli confronts his mother and asks her to tell him the truth. She tells him that all this while, he was being injected with tannins roots and holy water and that’s the reason why he felt sick. His sickness was a side effect of these substances and had nothing to with his immune system. When he asks her what he truly is, she reveals to him that she is his real mother but his father is actually the devil.
This the lie that was being kept from him all this while and everyone feared that he would someday reach his true potential to later raise havoc on the world around him. So before he could do that, the Nun and his parents wanted him to free him from his hidden evil motives.
Going back to the scene where Eli first meets Haley, he tells her that his mother got really sick when she was pregnant with him and had a tough time conceiving him. From this, it becomes clear that while his mother was pregnant with him, she faced several childbirth-related issues. Though she was seeking God during these tough times, the devil responded to all of her prayers and even assured her that her son will not turn out to be like him. But since “the devil always lies”, he brought his own child into the world and deceived the woman by making her the mother of a satanic boy.
Who is Haley?
In the final moments of the movie, Eli spares his mother but ends up killing everyone else. He also sets the whole demon-slaying mansion on fire. After this, he walks out with his mom and that’s when he meets Haley all over again. Haley then reveals her own true identity and it turns out that, just like him, she is also the demon’s child. She was just not allowed to tell him about it because it would somehow hinder his ability to reach his full potential. She also makes several references to a father figure who is, of course, the devil himself. With this, all the dots are connected and the three of them head out to finally meet Eli’s real father. The credits start to roll and you hope that the film will come out with a sequel.
The Significance of the Dragonflies
If you watch closely, there are several moments in the film where Eli is guided by Dragonflies, especially the part where he discovers the Nun’s basement. According to European folklore, a dragonfly is the witches’ animal and has been sent on Earth by the devil himself to cause chaos and confusion. So it is a possibility that the dragonfly was actually sent by Eli’s demonic father who wanted to help him with his process of self-actualization. Also labeled as the Devil’s Needle in several cultures, the dragonfly acts as the boy’s guide and helps him unravel the dark mysteries of the mansion.