Deliver Us from Evil markets itself as a sort of "The Exorcist meets Seven" kinda film...because some dude said so. It's really not, tho. But, I will say that it is better than most stuff that comes out of the Bruckheimer production house, lately. So, there's that.
Scott Derrickson is a good filmmaker. I won't go into Hellraiser: Inferno...or The Day the Earth Stood Still...because those films had more issues that weren't necessarily his fault. And it's not that those particular films were terrible...but, they were pretty snooze-worthy, despite the premises. However, his films The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister prove that Derrickson is capable of wringing some genuine tension from a truly original and creepy story. Which is the sole reason why I'm giving him a chance with the recently announced bit of news that he will be directing the franchise starter...Doctor Strange. And...it is why I'm giving this 30 million dollar horror film a shot.
Deliver Us from Evil is supposedly based on real events. It's weird whenever they say stuff like that because it feels more like a gimmick these days than a study on facts. And, as a matter of fact, if one were to do a little homework...one would find that the film does not actually include any of the true material that was documented in the 2001 book in which the basic premise is based...but, instead, goes for stuff that Derrickson wrote for the film himself. So, the "inspired by actual accounts" is kinda bullshit. But, whatever.
The film opens a few years back in Iraq where a small handful of US military guys descend into a creepy ancient cave after being ambushed by enemy fire...and we all know what happens inside creepy ancient caves. So, after some creepy found footage stuff happens, we fast-forward a few years to the Bronx where we are introduced to Eric Bana's NYC cop, Ralph Sarchie and a little bit of forced character exposition where he's doing his best to save a little baby. We're sort of force-fed the fact that this guy's seen some shit but, he's got the heart of a lion. I gotta say, tho...I love me some Eric Bana. He's a great actor and I'm glad to see him in some genre stuff. Speaking of love...I was psyched to see my wifey-in-another-lifey is in the film...Olivia Munn. After years of watching her on the awesomeness that was Attack of the Show...it is really great to see her acting abilities on display in stuff like this. Unfortunately, her rack wasn't on display in the film. And for the record, Nathan, she was the only reason why I watched Magic Mike. Grant it...I ended up watching the entire film...twice because it is a great film. But, still...boobies. Anyway...Munn plays Mrs. Sarchie in the film.
The other guy that deserves a mention is Edgar Ramirez as the Spanish priest Mendoza. He's Venezuelan and Venezuelans are mostly awesome. Ramirez is great in whatever he's in, tho...and, again...I'm happy to see actors of this caliber in the genre. They bring a certain level of credibility to stuff with demon possession and self-cannibalism in it. Great casting.
So, Sarchie basically recruits Mendoza in his battle against a rash of demonic possessions terrorizing the Bronx Zoo. It is there where they meet up with the leader of the demonically possessed gang, Santino (a more creeped-out than usual Sean Harris). I will say that some of the premise is a tad silly...especially the bit where the dude talks to the lion. But, Derrickson possesses (guffaw) the ability to make his films look cool and slick. Maybe a little too slick at times. Hell...he was able to make the dude from The Soup look badass.
There are some truly creepy brief moments in the film that never really deliver the horror that is supposed to be going on in the story and the gore is really great...whenever it isn't CGI. I liked the look of the possessed in the film and wished they really went for it during a particular exorcism in the third act. But, the film still manages to be engaging. I just wish it went deeper and spent more time with the "evil" stuff that it presents, rather than just showing us glimpses of it here and there.
Deliver Us from Evil is not "The Exorcist meets Seven" by any stretch of the imagination. It never delivers a fraction of the emotion and dread from those classic films. Hell...it never even feels evil when it is supposed to and weird stuff happens here and there just for the sake of weird stuff happening...and not necessarily for the sake of the story. There's even a scene where one of the characters randomly falls from the sky that feels so goddamn out of place and unnecessary and just reinforces the aimless feeling littered throughout the film. I would say that Deliver Us from Evil is your typical 30 million dollar demonic possession film "based on actual stuff" and it is certainly worth a dollar rental at the local Red Box and nothing more.
Thanks for reading,