Deliver Us From Evil
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn
118 mins; Class 15;
KRS Releasing Ltd
Deliver us from Evil is inspired by real-life cop Ralph Sarchie, a South Bronx, New York, police officer.
Sarchie reportedly encountered more than his fair share of un-explained cases throughout his career as chronicled in his book Beware the Night.
The story begins in Iraq in 2010, where a platoon of marines descends into an underground bunker and they encounter something rather terrifying.
A few years later, a mother in-explicably throws her young son into a lion’s den at the zoo, while a family experiences strange noises in their basement.
Sergeant Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner Butler (Joel McHale) are called in to investigate, discovering similar Latin text and weird symbols carved into the walls at the different locations.
When the mystery proves to be something that ordinary police work will not solve, Sarchie turns to unorthodox priest Joe Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) for help.
The inspiration behind this is certainly interesting – that this tough, blue-collar detective worked closely with members of the clergy on a number of cases that went beyond the natural and explicable.
However, the film itself is not based on any real incident, which is a shame.
The result is a bit of a mishmash of horror movie clichés and a muddled storyline whose different strands do not add up to a coherent whole.
Director Scott Derrickson, who wrote the screenplay with Paul Harris Boardman, knows how to create a spooky atmosphere and the film really hits the ground running, first with its Iraq-set sequence which segues to the eeriness of the New York Zoo at night. At times, the darkness of the scenes makes it hard to see what’s going on and follow the plot.
To his credit, Derrickson does pepper the film with a couple of genuine jump-in-your-seat moments; yet these are tempered by lame children-in-obvious-danger ones diluting somewhat the depth of the scares the film offers.
The result is a bit of a mishmash of horror movie clichés and a muddled storyline
The plot itself is too convoluted. The link between the different incidents is tenuous at best and when the demonic possession is discovered, little is done to establish its source as the film races to its all-too-obvious conclusion.
The characters are paper thin; the actors portraying them struggling to really have an impact.
Bana usually has charismatic presence, but his performance here is a little one-note.
It is also hampered by a role which calls him to do little more than grimace and glower throughout, despite supposedly being a man with his own dark demons.
McHale adds a little bit of lightness as the wise cracking, sidekick, although the role is also rather stereotypical in that his fate is rather obvious.
Edgar Ramirez’s Mendoza is the most interesting character, although again, we’ve met a version of the nonconformist priest before and the character brings nothing new to the table.
Sadly, Ramirez can’t resist the temptation of hamming it up somewhat, especially in the inevitable shout-over-the-top climactic exorcism scene.
Deliver us from Evil offers too much of the same thing… may future horror films deliver us from the evils of repetitiveness.
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