From the director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose & Sinister comes another horror flick that like many examples of its genre advertises itself to be based on a true story; this time inspired from the real-life account of an NYPD sergeant. However, apart from the main character’s name, everything in the movie is nothing but an entirely fictional setup that has no relation whatsoever with the events present in the book. And even though the above two mentioned films are counted amongst 21st century’s genuinely good chillers, Deliver Us From Evil probably won’t share the same list for it is marred by uninspired storytelling, lazy writing & many stupid sequences depicted throughout its runtime.
The movie opens with a prologue set in Iraq where a group of marines encounter a man-made underground cave & go in to investigate after which the story jumps 3 years later to 2013 in New York. Detective Ralph Sarchie is struggling with his own personal issues and spends his nights on routine calls, which of lately are turning out to be a series of disturbing & inexplicable events possibly connected to a single source. Assisting him on the case is an unconventional priest named Mendoza who tries to warn Sarchie that the real culprits behind the many troubling events taking place in their city are demonic forces and that the two of them will have to fight together against this formidable enemy.
Directed by Scott Derrickson, the movie builds up its premise in an effective manner despite travelling the ‘been there, done that’ road but as the story progresses, it becomes more n more absurd with its content & ultimately culminates on an incredibly pathetic note that offers no surprise, twist or reward for sitting through it patiently. Writing doesn’t have anything impressive going on as well for neither the characters nor the plot ever becomes interesting at any point throughout its runtime. The jump scares are repetitive, camerawork includes many photography techniques like point-of-view shots, night visions, slow zooms, steady focus & lighting is elegantly done too. Editing fails to sustain the tension while music includes many songs by The Doors in its plot.
Coming to the performances, the cast comprises of Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris & Joel McHale, and although all of them do a fair job in their given roles, none actually manage to leave a lasting impression by the time it’s all over. Eric Bana takes the role of real-life police officer Ralph Sarchie who is past his religious beliefs only to find himself in confrontation with dark supernatural forces. Ramírez is in as Mendoza; the Spanish priest who teams up with Ralph to take on the demonic forces that are terrorising the city. Olivia Munn plays Ralph’s concerned wife but there isn’t much of her in the film, Joel McHale is Butler; Ralph’s night-patrolling partner, and finally we have Sean Harris as Santino; one of the soldiers present in the opening prologue who’s possessed by a demon & ends up targeting Ralph.
On an overall scale, the negatives in Deliver Us From Evil far outweigh the positives and the film as a whole remains an underwhelming experience. The references to The Doors are used to signify the portal to hell which obviously takes away the serious tone from the film plus there is one moment when one of their songs simply burst into the screen without warning & ends up completely destroying a vital sequence which, if was performed correctly, could’ve still improved the final outcome of the movie. Like every Scott Derrickson film so far, the movie opens with enough promise & shows the director’s impressive grip when it comes to building up the tension but some of the poor choices made in the script really brings the story down & it never is able to hold on to the tension & suspense that was introduced early into the story.