Deliver Us From Evil Movie Review
Written by Katie Bonham
DVD released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Directed by Scott Derrikson
Written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman
2014, 118 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 5th January 2014
Eric Bana as Ralph Sarchie
Edgar Ramirez as Mendoza
Olivia Munn as Jen
Directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Deliver Us From Evil follows Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), an atheist anti-hero and tough New York police Sargent. He soon joins forces with an unconventional priest after a wave of connected crimes sweep the city in which the perpetrators appear possessed. Is the devil trying to take over the town or is there a more rational answer behind these events?
Deliver Us From Evil opens during the Iraq war as a group of soldiers uncover a mysterious underground base, which harbours strange images and inscriptions on the walls. Jump to the present day where we follow Sarchie, a cop investigating a series of horrific events involving erratic behaviour. Despite the contorted and possession-like traits of the offenders, Sarchie is convinced that these crimes are the result of the drug fuelled scum of New York and it is not until he meets the unorthodox priest Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), who claims the incarcerated are actually victims possessed by a demonic presence hell bent on causing chaos, that his perception begins to change. Mendoza is a practitioner in exorcisms and his only suggestion for stopping these crimes is to catch the ring leader and perform an exorcism.
An interesting take on the horror genre as Derrickson mixes police crime drama and supernatural horror; however, the balance between the two fails as they both struggle for power. Although a moody atmosphere is created by the iconic grim New York backdrop, it seems Derrickson could not decide what type of film he was shooting, as the drama is the main driving force behind the story and the horror element takes a back seat. The possessed are shown as crazed, feral humans who have lost all sanity and are actually quite scary, but these traits are nothing new to the genre - cue Latin speaking, self harming psychos.
The scare scenes come a little too obviously, creating disappointing climaxes when compared to the carefully constructed tension that Derrickson builds. In addition, although the story is straightforward and ultimately there is a resolution, not everything is tied up after two hours. I felt slightly cheated at being offered no real explanation to the various sub-plots. Also, the religious tone feels slightly preachy with a generic 'religion conquers all' message apparent towards the end.
The main plot is protracted and with a two hour running time the only momentum in the story is minimal scare scenes that fail to deliver. Expect the usual exorcism at the climax, offering the usual garbled Latin, rolling eyes, uncontrollable limbs and blood. The constant references to the band The Doors, both in resemblance to Ramirez's character and soundtrack falls flat against the restricted plot and undeveloped characters. An average film which 'delivers' the goods... well, just about.