ERIC BANA EDGAR RAMIREZ JOEL MCHALE OLIVIA MUNN
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
With the amount of possession/exorcism thrillers on the market every year, the difficulty becomes how to make the next one something audiences haven’t seen before. From the director of Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Scott Derrickson has a good track record with supernatural thrillers. While this is my least favorite of the three, Derrickson's involvement typically means there are going to be unique perspectives. For instance, this time it’s a detective involved in the evil, versus the writer or the lawyer. Eric Bana (Hanna, Hulk) has never been regarded as a strong actor, and usually his attachment to a film doesn’t give it much hope. However, the dark comedy from McHale (former Talk Soup anchor) and the performance from Ramirez (The Counselor, Zero Dark Thirty) give him the support he needs.
Sgt. Ralph Sarchie (Bana) is one of the toughest cops on the streets of New York. His intuition, or radar as his partner Butler (McHale) calls it, is right on. However, his current case gets him in far deeper than before, as a possessed killer seems to be infecting those around him. After a woman throws her two year old into a lion’s den at the local zoo, Sarchie is called in and the investigation into the demonic nature of the case begins. Seeking the help of Father Mendoza (Ramirez), he begins to understand that his own intuition makes him vulnerable to the manifestations that are occurring around him.
Emily Rose, which I still consider one of the most brilliantly executed exorcism films, was structured like a court case drama; Sinister is more similar to a typical horror film and Deliver Us From Evil is patterned after a cop thriller. Based on actual accounts, as most of these type films are, the script explores the diary of Sgt. Sarchie’s experiences. Calling this or any of Derrickson’s films horror movies implies stupidity and that isn’t fair; his work is always a level above “the other guys”. However, there are still stereotypical elements here; perhaps not fabricated for the script to fit a pattern, but sought after in the many scripts that are out there.
Frightened little girls, body mutilation and creepy toys all play a part in the creep factor of the film. Yet it’s the suspense that is the most chilling here, or at least certainly enough to keep your attention. The story does rely on loud noises, loud music, unnerving sounds a little more often than it should. If a story is truly disturbing or suspenseful, it doesn’t need as much of that “false” horror movie stuff to make it appealing or entertaining. Deliver Us From Evil is at its best when Ramirez is on screen with his brutal honesty, and at its worst when Bana is on screen alone trying to conjure up fright and concern on his face.
Final Thought – Director Derrickson continues to deliver a higher quality horror film than most.
By: Dustin Chase