Eloise (2017) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Eloise (2017) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on October 06th, 2020 | Movie Review | Haunted, Supernatural, Madness, Asylum

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A man comes into an inheritance, but must venture into a defunct asylum to retrieve documentation to claim it. Do the ghosts of the asylum’s past still haunt the halls?

Eloise was directed by Robert Legato and stars Robert Patrick (from Fire in the Sky, Autopsy), Eliza Dushku (from Wrong Turn), P. J. Byrne (from Final Destination 5), Nicole Forester (from I See You) and Chace Crawford.Eloise was directed by Robert Legato and stars Robert Patrick (from Fire in the Sky, Autopsy), Eliza Dushku (from Wrong Turn), P. J. Byrne (from Final Destination 5), Nicole Forester (from I See You) and Chace Crawford.

The creepiest and most haunted place in US!

Eloise Review

I live a twenty-minute drive from Eloise, a sprawling property that began as a poor house and eventually became its own community, with a psychiatric facility, a hospital, and a sanitorium for people who had contracted TB, before shuttering in the 80s. There is still a large cemetery on the property where many graves lay unmarked, and everyone who lives nearby knows someone who has ventured into the miles of tunnels beneath the property. And it’s widely accepted in the Detroit area that Eloise is haunted.

Eloise1I’ve been inside the Kay Beard building, one of Eloise’s few remaining structures, where psychiatric patients were held and lobotomies were performed. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, you simply can’t deny the strange energy that surrounds the property. It’s the perfect setting for a horror movie.

Unfortunately, that movie was Eloise.

Jacob, a struggling mechanic, learns that he is suddenly coming into a large inheritance when his estranged father passes away. We never learn what the problem with the two of them was - from mementos he sees, it looks like his dad cared for him - but Jacob seems to blame his father for ending up in juvy, and he is largely unaffected by his passing. He is quick to offer cash to Dell, his conman friend who just so happens to be in need of a large sum of money - though, we never hear any more about that either. Regardless, Dell is now motivated for Jacob to get paid so he can funnel some cash his way, and he’s willing to go to great lengths to help him. Jacob learns that he must get into the annex of Eloise to obtain a death certificate for an aunt he never knew he had, a former patient of the hospital, in order to get the family money (isn’t he next of kin over his dad’s sister? I digress). He enlists the help of Scotty, an overzealous and somewhat childlike man obsessed with Eloise who requires oversight from his big sister Pia.

Eloise2The four venture into the long-closed building, following Scotty through the halls to look for the paperwork. The dialogue moves too quickly - there’s no time to let the story unfold naturally. The relationship between Pia and Jacob goes from zero connection to intimate conversation rapidly, so a love connection is expected, though a connection of an entirely different sort interlinks them later.

The film bears similarities to the far-superior anthology Patient Seven, though any resemblance is probably coincidental since they were filmed around the same time. Scenes are quickly spliced between the past and the present; in the vein of Last Shift, realistic hallucinations intermingle with scenes of past torture of mental patients, but it's hard to decipher at times whether we are seeing what's in the characters' imaginations or if these ghosts are stuck in a time loop that coexists with the present. It becomes more clear towards the end of the film, but by that time logic has completely gone out the window and Pia and Jacob are pulled into an alternate universe.

Much of the movie relies on generic ghastly whispers, but the movie is so damn noisy that there’s no tension build-up. Some scenes would have benefitted from silence, or at least near-silence, to amp up the intensity, but the score was constantly running.

There was really only one opportunity that looked like it had scare potential. What started as a creepy entry into a cafeteria devolved into a scene so ridiculous and asinine that I really almost turned the movie off. A paranormal vision of nurses and orderlies years prior, dancing amongst patients to swing band music, eventually turns into a forced patient fight club - just...what? Could we maybe fill some plot holes in this time instead of this charade? Could we at least get some kind of freakout from Pia and Jacob witnessing it? They're just kinda looking at it unfold, like…"Huh. That’s weird."

Each character’s former trauma could have been a great exploration into why we are the way we are. The ties between the characters had a note of creativity, but it was just so badly executed that it barely made a difference. I’m a fan of both Chace Crawford and Eliza Dushku - I thought Chace did the best he could with what he was given, and Eliza phoned it in. It’s likely they signed on because of Robert Legato’s involvement. Unfortunately his impressive pedigree in blockbuster movies’ visual effects departments did not help the one and only film he’s directed - but, I will say, the effects in this weren’t bad.

Worth Watching?

No. I really, really wanted to like this movie because I’ve been there. I know how sad the history is, and how creepy it feels to visit that place in real life. But Eloise was full of loose ends, incredibly bad lighting, and asylum cliches. Just go visit the actual asylum instead.

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