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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Any potentially positive messages of parents doing whatever is necessary to cure their son of a rare autoimmune disorder are eliminated by the end of the movie. Medical treatment shown to be scary and dangerous.
Positive Role Models
While he appears to be a boy struggling with a rare autoimmune disorder, the titular character, like every character in the movie, isn't what he seems.
Violence & Scariness
Gore. Character discovers rotting corpses of children. A head explodes. Characters turned upside down, floating and spinning while set on fire. Eli has what appears to be a life-threatening allergy attack -- gasping for breath and screaming while his skin turns red. Graphic scenes of surgery: cuts in skin, drilling through a skull. Demonic imagery throughout. Bullying: a gang of young adults in a parking lot make fun of Eli for wearing his hazmat suit. Jump scares galore.
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Occasional profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t" used by Eli. "Bitch," "crap." Middle-finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Bullies drink beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eli is a horror movie in which a young boy named Eli (Charlie Shotwell) undergoes a last-ditch effort to be cured of a rare autoimmune disorder, only to discover a shocking truth. Expect plenty of horror movie violence, as well as gore, blood, demonic imagery, and lots of jump scares. Characters' heads blow up, and characters are set on fire. A character discovers the rotting corpses of children. There are graphic depictions of surgery, including a drill to the skull and a scalpel to skin. Eli has what appears to be a life-threatening allergy attack in which he screams, cries, and gasps for air while his skin turns red. Bullying is seen: A gang of young adults drinking beer by a trailer make fun of Eli for wearing a hazmat suit in public. There's occasional profanity, including "f--k" and "s--t," and the middle-finger gesture is used. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
To even reference any of the classic horror movie storylines this film draws upon would give the game away. Let's just say that what appears to be a rather basic haunted-house horror movie paired with what seems to be a mad doctor engaging in gruesomely unethical surgeries shifts in some shocking directions. The story's twists and turns result in a satisfying horror movie in which it seems all the adults are hiding something (and they are). Viewers' enjoyment of this movie is inevitably dependent on how they feel about getting their sympathies and their sense of the "good guys" and "bad guys" contorting into an unexpected direction.
Eli has a satisfying ending because, unlike so many other movies with twist endings, it's easy to see how the clues were there all along. In other words, the ending isn't a cheap gimmick. While definitely not in the same league as the classic horror movies that clearly influenced Eli, it's still a fun movie that starts to feel as much like a game as anything else. Much of what works in the movie is attributable to Charlie Shotwell's performance as Eli, whose pained howls, asthmatic wheezing, and awkward tween interactions with the opposite sex play on our sympathies throughout most of the movie. It's a horror movie not easily forgotten, and one that rewards repeated viewings.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.