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Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Cover art:

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Deliver Us From Evil (2014)Starring Eric Bana, Joel McHale, Sean Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn

Directed by Scott Derrickson


Real-life paranormal investigators are all the cinematic rage these days. Just look at the box office bucks The Conjuring raked in. In fact, there’s even a Lorraine Warren tie-in to Deliver Us From Evil…. and – there’s also a child’s haunted hand-crank music box!

Based on the memoirs of retired NYPD police officer and demonologist Ralph Sarchie, this flick focuses on a case of his in which he teamed up with an unconventional priest and beat the devil. Sarchie was taught the techniques of exorcism by none other than Mrs. Warren herself, but it was the man of the cloth who really set him on the path of righteousness.

Eric Bana plays the hardnosed Bronx-based cop, who suffers a crisis of faith when he begins to investigate a series of disturbing and puzzling crimes which defy all logic and reason. So he does the logical and reasonable thing: He teams up with an exorcist (Edgar Ramirez) and sets out to rid the city of its resident demons.

I love a detective vs. devil movie: Fallen, End of Days, Constantine… Good or bad, I’m in. Deliver Us From Evil is no exception. In spite of its clichés, for the most part I enjoyed it. Directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister and, before that, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) with his usual visual panache and penchant for suspense, Deliver Us From Evil is effective in those areas… but the plot is often muddy and incoherent, and the religious message is awfully heavy-handed. Then again, since when has Catholicism been known for its subtlety?

The supporting cast includes Joel McHale as Sarchie’s wise-cracking partner and Olivia Munn as his long-suffering wife. All of the actors are very good, but they seem out of their elements. In the end, as the Satanic spectacle unfolds, I found myself not really caring what happened to any of them.

The cinematography, locations, and set design are top-notch. So is the use of iconic 60s rock songs, which are implemented to eerie effect. Like The Rolling Stone’s “Time Is on My Side” in Fallen, or “Paint it Black” in Stir of Echoes, The Doors’ “Break on Through” and “Riders on the Storm” add hints of nuance in an otherwise exposition-ridden presentation.

Savvy viewers, especially those with some knowledge of Derrickson’s eloquence, may suspect big-studio meddling… something is just a little “off” when it comes to the horror aspects of the film. In short: It fails to, er, deliver. But if you’re a sucker for the subject matter, you’ll probably want to check it out anyway.

2 1/2 out of 5

Discuss Deliver Us From Evil in the comments section below!

Staci Layne Wilson

8 Comments

  1. I dug this. Not Derrickson’s best, but over-all solid. It’s kind of a hard movie to make in retrospect. You have to cater to the law enforcement crowd, while catering to the horror crows, while honoring your main character and his exploits. That’s a lot on the plate.

    Only one part of the movie took me out of it…

    **SPOILERS**

    When Sarchie is in the “wife beater’s” apartment and he gets attacked and the dude jumps through the glass. The very next moment he’s still sitting in the perp’s apartment going through his videos with no sign of his wife.

    I would think the whole attack thing would have put the kibosh on going through hard drives.

    On the positive side, loved the usage of The Doors and I can’t really hate on any movie that gives me a double bladed demonic knife fight! LOL

    **END SPOILERS**

    • Only one part of the movie took you out? You had no issue what-so-ever with a demonically possessed “true evil” guy, kidnapping his pursuer’s family, apparently driving both to a random garage, padlocking them in a van without as much as a scratch on them, and then returning to the house just to tell him he took them. No plan, no motivation, no particular reason, just apparently to make him really mad.

      What exactly was the point of any of this? If you had to summarize everything in a few sentences, go for it.

      Why paint on walls of the zoo? Why scratch under the little girl’s bed? The possessed guy got his wife pregnant after he returned? Why a knife fight and not possess him or the family as retaliation? Why did the insane ward have no security? What was the possessed trio doing for 3 years besides starting a painting company, laying low? What happened to the wife beater after he was handcuffed? Why randomly kill yourself in the basement of a couple that had nothing to do with anything?

      You would think the demons would go after Sarchie’s unborn child, but nope, the pregnancy was just another meaningless tidbit of useless information that didn’t play into the nonexistent plot.

  2. Eric Bana is here to Deliver Us from Evil but who the fuck is going to Deliver Us from Boredom?

    Man ‘O Man ‘O Man ‘O Man…another fucking dull pointless drawn-out cliché riddled snoozefest. I am always one of the most considerate people in a movie theater. But I couldn’t help staring up at the ceiling and letting out loud obnoxious SIGHS so people around me could sense my frustration. I guess the Power of Christ compelled me to act like one of the assholes I despise when I’m watching a movie.

    Cat jump scares, long monotonous diatribes, dog jump scares, every possessed cliché, self mutilation, unrealistic police, senseless gimmicks, no scares, no suspense, night vision jump scares, crisis of faith, telegraphed scenes, renewed faith, ridiculously misused and misplaced classic rock music, cliché wife/husband/child relationship…

    What exactly was the point? These possessed people came home from Iraq and functioned for 3 years only doing occasional demonic things for what exact end game? Just to scratch the floors? Write shit on the wall then paint over it? Hang out at the zoo? Make some woman chuck her baby into a pit and then jump off a roof? Make lights flicker and burn out?

    And the ending? What? Why the hell would a demon kidnap the detective’s family that was trying to catch him? That’s as perplexing as Jason Voorhees taking a prisoner. Here was the film’s big moment. It’s big chance to send the audience out with a HOLY FUCK moment. Something shocking. Truly memorable. Wake people up by the throat. They build it up by telling him he’s never seen true evil. And when he finally encounters true evil, the demon locks people up in a van? Untouched? Unscathed? Unpunished? For no purpose? This lame cop-out happy ending is nauseating. It’s the equivalent to the movie Seven ending with John Doe locking Detective Mills wife in a Starbucks bathroom and showing him a picture. And besides, how would the newly unpossessed guy even know where they were safely locked away? Wasn’t he technically mentally vacated from his body?

    The REAL crisis of faith here is in the future of horror films. I seriously doubt Hollywood can create anything of significance anymore. The rare nuggets that occasionally slip through are the exceptions to the rule, not the norm. The horror genre is on life support and clinically brain dead just waiting for someone to pull the plug. And not even a long haired cigarette smoking shot drinking woman impregnating priest can chant some laughable shit this time around to Deliver us from Bad Horror…

    Deliver Us From Evil – 1 / 5

    *For the record, I had a much better in-depth review/critique written but it was wiped out because of all the fucking overlapping popping up ads on this site and I’m too pissed and drunk to remember it verbatim*

    • Sorry Kidd. You’re glitch was probably due to us working on the CMS is the background. We’re working on a few back-end things. As for the ads? The site is free for everyone, but we have bills to pay, ya know?

      Haven’t seen this one yet, but will be catching it tomorrow. I’m a fan of Derrickson so hopefully I’ll have a different experience.

      • I know, it’s a necessary evil. I kept clicking on Save (submit) and a box of dread popup kept happening. Then after I closed it for the 6th time, the curser was stuck and everything closed.

        Shit happens. I should have typed it in Word first.

        Oh well, I look forward to hearing what you think tomorrow about this flick. It’s just such an incoherent cliché riddled mess…

  3. When I scrolled south and saw 2.5/5 I gasped in disappointment….until I realized this was rated by the same half-laced reviewer who gave SNOWPIERCER a 5-paragraph plot summary with a 2 attached to the bottom. I hesitated to comment then, but her style is akin to a book report hastily written by a student clutching Cliff’s notes the night pre-due date. And I knew it was only a matter of next-film before Scott Derrickson’s unapologetic declaration of faith would earn him critical scathe for being “heavy handed”. Be that as it may, I have high hopes for DELIVER US FROM EVIL. I loved Derrickson’s stylishly dark direction on SINISTER.

    • That half-laced reviewer has been in the business for 12 years and has worked for everyone from us to the Syfy channel, but I digress, her Snowpiercer review may not be popular but it’s her opinion. Reviews are not gospel.

  4. You know a genre is played out for the time being when even the decent entries are dragged down by an inescapable sense of been there, done that. There’s nothing wrong with this movie other than every trick in its playbook has been played in the countless other exorcism/possession films of recent years. Never felt scared or creeped out for that very reason. But if it had been the pilot for a new police procedural horror series called Exorcist Cop I’d probably tune in for a few more episodes.

    Can’t wait to see many of the same people that sneer at the likes of God’s Not Dead and Heaven is for Real having no problems with this film despite it being the most overtly religious movie in quite some time.

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