Deliver Us From Evil - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
AT times laughably bad and yet still somehow stupidly entertaining Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil is also one of the most derivative horror films ever to be inspired by a true story.
Eric Bana heads the cast as Ralph Sarchie, a member of an elite unit of the New York police department who has developed something of a sixth sense for picking out unusual cases. His latest involves an abandoned baby in an alleyway and a mother who throws her child into the lion enclosure at the zoo, both of which seem to be related to a shadowy figure who seems to be controlling them.
Things get stranger when a renegade Catholic priest (Edgar Ramirez) makes contact, claiming that the crimes could be the work of a demon.
Initially sceptical, Sarchie eventually teams up with the priest in a case that also involves Iraq war veterans and which eventually puts his own family at risk.
Deliver Us From Evil may claim to be inspired by the real-life experiences of the cop at the centre of the story (Sarchie, who has also published the book, Beware the Night) but it owes more than a passing resemblance to countless other genre releases. Producer Michael Bay has described it as The Exorcist crossed with Serpico while Derrickson’s own back catalogue (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) gets referenced.
Given the director’s experience of competently handling the demands of the genre, however, it comes as no surprise that Deliver Us From Evil has some suitably creepy moments as well as a full throttle exorcism scene.
But the film as a whole is only really at its most compelling during the quieter moments when Bana and Ramirez get to debate issues of faith and whether pure evil can really exist in the world. Both actors work really well together.
Of note, too, is Sean Harris’s PTSD suffering (and possessed) ex-soldier and Joe McHale’s knife brandishing, kick-ass partner, making a muscular break away from comedy.
But there are also too many occasions when Derrickson’s film resorts to tired genre cliches, such as cheap jump shocks involving suddenly appearing dogs or things that go bump in the night as well as stereotypical and poorly defined characters (such as Bana’s wife, played by Olivia Munn in a thankless role).
The overall effect is that Deliver Us From Evil emerges as a minor league horror movie, effective for those with not too much awareness, rather than the major league, scare the crap out of you, nerve-shredder that it ought to have been.
Running time: 116mins
UK Release Date: August 22, 2014