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The Ending Of The Netflix Horror Movie Eli Explained

On October 18, 2019, Netflix released an original horror film called Eli. Directed by Ciaran Foy (Sinister 2), the film follows the journey of the titular boy (played by Charlie Shotwell) as he undergoes an experimental treatment to cure an immunodeficiency disease that's left him unable to live anything resembling a normal life. The film's trailers make it out to be a combination of a haunted house movie and a medical horror story, as Eli's suffering is intercut with visitations from ghosts in the massive old mansion where his treatments are taking place. 

After the film was released, viewers who tried out Eli realized that the film was actually something else entirely, and were thrown for a loop by the film's many twists and turns. Yes, the haunted house horrors are still there, but if you've watched Eli, you know that it's headed for a very different place, and there are a lot of moving parts involved with getting it there. With that in mind, let's talk about how Eli builds to its wild ending, and what it all means.


Eli's future

Eli is a film packed with big twists and revelations, but it ends with one last major one: Eli and Haley are half-siblings. The girl who'd simply pretended to be a neighbor living near the strange old mansion where Eli's "treatments" took place is actually one of Satan's daughters, watching over Eli as he endured the treatments and hoping that he'd figure out who he really is and what kind of potential he actually has. Haley gets her wish when Eli sets fire to the mansion, sparing only his mother in the carnage, and walks outside to find Haley is just like him, with her own set of supernatural powers.

As the film ends, perhaps the biggest question hanging over Eli is what exactly Eli and Haley will do now. Haley has promised to introduce him to "Dad," which means he'll meet Satan in some form in the near future, but then what do they do? Is there some kind of plan for world domination afoot? Will they go and look for other half-siblings out there in the world? We don't know, but they're probably not headed for life at an exclusive boarding school.

Other nuns

One of the most important twists in Eli, one that goes a long way toward explaining the bigger picture of its third act, is the revelation that Dr. Horn is not just a doctor undertaking experimental medical treatments. She's also the leader of a small group of nuns, and her "treatments" are actually a multi-tiered form of exorcism conducted with the hope that it will drive the Satanic influence out of Eli and ultimately save his soul. As he tries to unravel the mystery of what's happening to him, Eli learns that this treatment has already claimed the lives of at least three other children, whose final "treatments" meant Dr. Horn had to kill them to save their souls when she couldn't save their physical bodies. 

The repetitive nature of this process, plus Haley's declaration near the end of the film that "Dad gets around," suggests that there are other children of Satan in the world, and that perhaps they can't all be handled by this single group of nuns conducting this very intimate version of an exorcism at an isolated mansion somewhere in the United States. Dr. Horn may have died, but it's unlikely that her "treatments" are completely wiped off the Earth.

Church-sanctioned treatment

Dr. Horn and her nurses represent what is, on the surface, a relatively small group of people attempting what is ultimately revealed to be a world-altering journey. They are trying, in their own secretive way, to rid the world of Satan's children, potential Antichrists with supernatural gifts that they don't yet fully understand. To do this, they have devised a complex infrastructure that involves purchasing a spooky old mansion, retrofitting it for various medical procedures, and isolating their "patients" from the world so they can work in relative secrecy. 

How exactly Dr. Horn and her little order of nuns managed to afford all this isn't ever made entirely clear, though we know that Eli's parents sunk a considerable portion of their own financial resources into their effort to cure their son. Given how important Dr. Horn's work is to her, though, it seems likely that she has other benefactors working behind the scenes given her background as a nun. Does the Vatican know about her work? Is the Vatican funding her work, secretly or otherwise? Now that she's dead, will someone step forward to replace her? If the stakes are as high as stopping Satan's army of super-powered children, you'd think someone at the Church would step up.

Passing the test

By the end of Eli, it's revealed that Haley is much more than a nosy neighbor kid who likes to snoop around Dr. Horn's mansion to see what the new patients are like. She's actually one of Satan's other children, and therefore Eli's half-sister, who's been coming around because she wants to see if Eli will actually be able to come out the other side of his "treatments" and become who he's truly meant to be. Haley hints at this along the way by telling Eli he's stronger than the other children who died, which she reaffirms at the end as they drive away together. 

What Haley doesn't really elaborate on too much is why she didn't do more to help Eli, but the implication is clear: The "treatments" Eli was forced to go through would serve as both an activation of his Satanic powers and a kind of test of will that would prove that he was worthy of meeting his true father when the dust settled. Eli managed to prove himself without any substantive help from Haley, but the fact that she kept her distance raises some interesting questions. Do all of Satan's kids have to pass some kind of test like this? Did she? How many other gauntlets do they have to run before they can truly be accepted? Is Satan the kind of dad who's just super into character-building exercises?

Rose's future

By the time Eli is over, the title character has both learned and accepted who he really is, coming to terms with his powers in a frightening burst of rage and vengeance. Eli's wrath leaves only one adult spared: His mother, Rose, who now has to accept the reality that she had a child with Satan and that child is fully aware of who his father is. 

When we last see Rose, she's traumatized and utterly shaken by what happened in Dr. Horn's mansion, and with good reason. She watched her son go on a supernatural rampage that left her husband, Dr. Horn, and Dr. Horn's nurses all dead, only to then go outside and meet a strange girl who also seems to be Satan's kid. The film ends with Eli, Haley, and Rose driving away from the mansion together, with Rose acting as the unwilling chauffeur. We know they're driving to meet Satan somewhere out in the world, but we don't know where, and we don't know what exactly will happen to Rose when she gets there. Eli clearly loves her enough to keep her alive, but how will she fare once he's met his true father? That remains an open, terrifying question.

Investigating the mansion

Eli is a rather stripped-down, intimate story that wants to be as straightforward as possible with its setup so we can get to the film's biggest twists in a clean, clear way. That means that while we see certain hints as to what came before, we don't always get a ton of detail, particularly in terms of the mansion where Dr. Horn has set up her treatment center. The film doesn't tell us exactly where it is, how long she's been there, or if anyone out in the world really knows about it other than Eli and his family. 

By the end of the film, Eli has burned down the mansion with his powers, creating quite a flaming spectacle that would be visible to anyone driving on nearby roads or perhaps living on nearby hillsides. The film never tells us how close the nearest neighbor is, but it stands to reason that the burning mansion would attract attention, and that if authorities did respond to a fire call they'd find quite a lot of strange things in the rubble of the house. What happens when an investigation is launched? Is it a simple case of murder and arson, or will investigators arrive at something more complex?

The history of "treatments"

By the time Eli is over, we've learned that a great deal of the title character's life up to that point has been part of an elaborate lie, a lie that we're then left to go back and retrace after the film has given up its biggest secrets. Eli was told, after a few years of living a relatively normal childhood, that he had an immune disorder that could mean death if he so much as breathed the air outdoors, and then he was subject to elaborate "treatments" from Dr. Horn to cure this disorder with the help of virus that would rewrite his genetic code. 

The truth turned out to be that Eli wasn't sick at all, but the disease was made up by his parents to ultimately justify his "treatment," which was a series of holy water injections that would prepare his body to receive what would ultimately amount to a really complicated exorcism. Now, trying to exorcise a kid who happens to be Satan's son might sound at least a little reasonable, but the elaborate lying that sprung up around it seems much more far-fetched. By the time Eli escapes Dr. Horn's mansion, having resisted the final treatment, we're left to wonder exactly how long it took Dr. Horn to figure out that this was the way to spring this trap. Can it ever work again, or will whoever takes over make a few key changes?

Satan's plan

The third act of Eli is packed with twist after twist, game-changing revelation after game-changing revelation, but perhaps the most emotional of these comes when Rose has to tell Eli what she did to make him the way he is. According to his mother, Eli is Satan's son because she wanted a child of her own so badly that she was willing to make a deal with the devil to have him. Satan impregnated her, and as a result Eli looks like a normal kid on the outside, but also happens to possess horrifying powers like telekinesis and pyrokinesis. 

By the end of the film, it's clear that Eli is not just Satan's son, but one of many children the Prince of Darkness has had a hand in creating. The film ends as Eli and his half-sister Haley drive off to meet dear old, which of course raises the question: What exactly is Satan planning to do with all of these half-Hellspawn? It's possible that he's not really planning anything, and that having this kids is all part of his overall vibe as a sower of chaos around the world. If he wanted to, though, Satan could start grooming these kids for leadership and place them in positions of power across the globe. His army could have a massive influence over every step of human history in new and frightening ways. He's just got to get all the kids under the same roof first.

The fate of the ghosts

Though it ultimately explodes into Satanic mayhem, Eli is a film that spends much of its runtime looking and sounding like a haunted house movie with a bit of a body horror twist. Eli is a sick boy taken to a secluded mansion to be cured, and while he explores at night he runs into a trio of ghosts that seem determined to tell him something. Yes, what they have to tell him might be something no one saw coming, but they're still just presenting as ghosts with unfinished business. 

By the end of the film we've learned that the unfinished business was letting Eli know who Dr. Horn really was and what she was really trying to do to him. Once he figured out the truth, Eli unloaded on Dr. Horn with all of his power, but what happened to the ghosts? Do they get to be free now that the truth is out? Does their father, Satan himself, find a way to put them in new bodies? The film doesn't elaborate on this, but Satan's kids make some pretty powerful spirits. It seems wrong to just leave them like that.