Review: Deliver Us From Evil
Not scary. A little funny.
**Update 6/3/14: Marvel has reportedly hired the director of this film, Scott Derickson (Insidious, The Day the Earth Stood Still) to make their upcoming Doctor Strange movie.
Deliver us from Evil is an upcoming horror movie about Ralph Sarchie, a cynical NY cop played by Eric Bana (Lone Surviver) who investigates a series of increasingly unsettling crimes. He teams up with an unconventional priest played by Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty) to fight the paranormal possessions terrorizing the city and confront Sarchie's own demons.
While the film is based on a book which is "based on a true story", it is not an effective horror movie, or even a good film for that matter. The plot is illogical and incoherent, with many scenes that take place for seemingly arbitrary reasons that lack satisfying payoff. It asks intriguing questions about the role of faith and doubt in shaping our views of the world. Ultimately, however, it comes off as a blatant advertisement for the Catholic church mixed with an unoriginal exorcism movie.
Bana is serviceable as the cliche cop struggling to maintain faith, make time for his family, and move on from his dark past. Ramirez is pretty unconvincing as the priest, perhaps because all of his dialogue is either clunky exposition or very direct endorsements of the Catholic church. Olivia Munn (The Newsroom) is given little to do as Sarchie's wife who is concerned with how distant her husband is acting with his daughter. Additionally, Joel McHale (Community) plays Sarchie's sarcastic partner who is good for some mildly comic relief. Ultimately, despite all around decent performances, I didn't care very much about the fate of any of the characters.
Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, two much more effective horror films) falters here, replacing tension and suspense with constant rain and scenes taking place in the dark. You get the sense that the move got away from him, perhaps in the editing room, or possibly reshoots. The film is awkwardly paced and feels too long. I found myself hoping that a confrontation taking place two thirds of the way through the film would be the climax, and was disappointed to find out that we'd have to wait for another battle before the movie was over.
The first half of the film is pretty funny. However, the humor is a double edged sword which both keeps the scenes somewhat entertaining but also deflates any of the tension that's supposed to be building. Some of the fight scenes are brutal, and the film doesn't shy away from gross and violent images, yet that merely makes sequences unpleasant to watch, rather than truly scary or effective. The most effective scares come from one scene in Sarchie's daughter's room which was shown in the trailer. Other than a few jump scares and some violent or graphic images, the scares are ineffective.
Overall, Deliver Us From Evil misses the mark much more often than it hits. It is a long, incoherently plotted advertisement for the Catholic church mixed with a very cliche exorcism film. Bana's Sarchie has some interesting backstory, but the audience doesn't care about most of the characters. While the film asks some interesting philosophical questions, it fails to deliver any satisfying resolution to those questions, and although there are a few effective scares, they are few and far between.
Deliver Us From Evil comes out July 2nd.