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Exclusive: Scripter talks “boy in the bubble” chiller “ELI,” from “GERALD’S GAME” producer

Monday, September 25, 2017 | Exclusive, News

By MICHAEL GINGOLD

Last month, writer/director David Chirchirillo (co-scripter of CHEAP THRILLS) hosted the European premiere of his psychochiller BAD MATCH at London’s FrightFest. While there, he gave RUE MORGUE some details on ELI, an upcoming horror film he’s scripted that has some solid talent attached.

Originally set up at Broad Green Pictures before that company shut down its production division in early August, the ELI script was on the 2015 Black List of best unproduced screenplays, and topped its genre-oriented counterpart the BloodList the same year. “We still have Ciaran Foy, who did CITADEL, attached to direct, and Trevor Macy, who produces Mike Flanagan’s stuff [including the new GERALD’S GAME] and has an amazing mind for horror, producing, so hopefully we’ll get going pretty soon,” Chirchirillo tells RUE MORGUE.

His story puts a medical twist on the haunted-house genre: “It’s about an 11-year-old boy who has an autoimmune disorder; he can’t go outside or he’ll die,” Chirchirillo explains. “His parents, in a last-ditch effort to save his life, bring him to this clean house in the middle of nowhere, where there’s a doctor and his staff who say, ‘We can cure your sick son.’ Unfortunately, that house turns out to be horribly haunted, and of course nobody believes him. So Eli is stuck in this situation where he can’t stay, but he can’t leave or he’ll die, and we’ve got some pretty wild twists that go down. We’re pitching it as ‘The Boy in the Haunted Bubble.’ ”

The reference is to THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE, the cult-favorite 1976 TV movie starring John Travolta in the title role. Chirchirillo reveals that he did research into a true case that inspired that film as part of the ELI writing process. “I read a lot about David Vetter, and that was the saddest story ever, because the doctors told his parents, ‘If you have this kid, he’s going to have this problem, but we’ll probably be able to fix it in the next couple of years.’ So they were like, ‘All right, let’s do it, we want a kid,’ and then unfortunately, they weren’t able to find a cure, and he had this sort of miserable life until he died at a young age. I wanted to bring a lot of that sympathetic quality to ELI, where it’s about this boy who didn’t ask for any of this, and is stuck in this terrible situation.”

We’ll keep you updated on ELI as more news comes through!

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and spent 28 years as a writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. In addition to RUE MORGUE, he currently writes for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM, IndieWire.com, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM and others. His book THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press) is out this fall, and he has contributed liner notes and featurettes to a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT and LEECHES!, and he is currently working on THE DOLL with director Dante Tomaselli.
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