UK Release Date: 22nd August 2014
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writer: Scott Derrickson, Paul Harris Boardman
Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris
Synopsis: A skeptic cop in the Bronx teams up with a bizarre priest to investigate what appears to be a creepy case of demonic possession.
With the 2012 chiller Sinister, Scott Derrickson really arrived on the horror scene. Perfectly mastering the tropes of the modern scary movie, Derrickson crafted an intense and terrifying film. Alongside his co-writing credit on Devil’s Knot, horror-crime hybrid Deliver Us From Evil is his final film before joining Marvel on Doctor Strange. Unfortunately, it’s half-baked at best.
New York City cop Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is investigating a bizarre and unexplainable case when he and partner Butler (Joel McHale) are thrust into the path of unconventional priest Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez). As the case becomes increasingly weirder and more supernatural, involving Sarchie’s wife Jen (Olivia Munn) in the ensuing horror.
On the most basic level, Deliver Us From Evil succeeds as a scary movie. Scott Derrickson knows exactly how to use the tools of the genre to his advantage and conjures up some genuinely effective jump scares. An early set piece in which Eric Bana’s cop is menaced by a lion is judged to perfection, avoiding the easy jump.
| "As a cop, I’ve seen some horrible things. But nothing that can’t be explained by human nature."
Unfortunately, Deliver Us From Evil fails in just about every other way. The storyline used to tie the scary set pieces together attempts to marry the simplicity of horror cinema with the complexities of the crime thriller, but ends up just being a jumbled mess. The plot escalates to a truly bonkers and overblown conclusion, but quickly cops out with an overly neat and anti-climactic finale. As the gore mounts, the intrigue fades away.
Eric Bana is a generic leading man, devoid of anything resembling charisma or character motivation. The only thing the audience ever learns about him is that he is an absent father, who only learns to care about his wife and kids when his work puts them in danger.
Edgar Ramirez fares better as the laidback priest helping Bana with the case, but Joel McHale is underused as Bana’s douchebag partner. Deliver Us From Evil also has a nasty habit of forgetting about its female characters entirely, unless they’re needed as damsels in distress. It’s a nasty habit of horror films in general, but it’s especially obvious here.
| "Your investigation puts you and your family in danger."
Derrickson is a director and writer who can do a lot better than this. He is clearly a competent filmmaker, but Deliver Us From Evil suffers from poor plotting and its weird genre clash. There’s a reason this is the first film to try and combine Se7en with The Exorcist.
Pop or Poop?
With a bit of refinement, Deliver Us From Evil could have been a very good horror movie. However, by trying to borrow aspects of the thriller genre and over-cooking its busy plot, it gets stuck in the mud of its own world.
Bana and Munn make for a generic screen couple, not helped by a finale that goes from the sublime to the ridiculously boring very quickly indeed.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.