Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn
“There are two types of evil in this life. Secondary evil, the evil that men do…”
I was lucky enough to attend a very advanced screening, having little to no information about the film. I did do a little research, like watch the trailer, but there was one thing that surprised me. At the time of this writing, the film has not yet been rated so I found this to be incredibly exciting having absolutely no idea what tone the film would be. While turning my cell phone to security, I asked him if he knew if this was the final version of the film or if it was a workprint. He said he didn’t know but since the release was over a month away, he would assume there might be changes to the film. So this review will be for the film as it was shown to my audience.
“…,and primary evil, which is something else entirely.”
Deliver Us From Evil is, without going into spoilers, about a New York police officer (Bana) that investigates a series of crimes that slowly divulges into the supernatural. The film begins with the title “Inspired by True Events”, this caused me and several others to burst out loud laughing. The film then starts in Iraq in 2010 with three soldiers in the desert doing…something? Its never reveled or even talked about and kept me wondering, what were they even doing in the first place? After discovering a hidden chamber in the ground they investigate to find something awful. The movie then cuts to New York where we meet Ralph (Bana) going around on the night shift of police duty.
The first thing I noticed about the film itself is the incredibly fast camera work and editing that starts off the film. Its incredibly confusing and I actually had to look up Bana’s character’s name online since I honestly don’t remember a time they said his name. Within the first five minutes the characters started throwing around a couple of F words and to my delight the film does have a very much R rated tone. Unfortunately I would have to wait a very long time for the film to get interesting.
The film’s plot is overly convoluted in the introduction and serves no point, but luckily things get better as the film goes on. The film’s director Scott Derrickson made a film I really enjoyed in 2012 titled, Sinister. I found the direction to be incredibly solid and genuinely frightening along with being, “I can’t unsee that” levels of disturbing. It really gave me hope for this film but the film never tries to be scary but heavily relies on jump scares. Most of which I could clearly see coming and some that were really pathetic. If I see another film that has a cat jump out and be a jump scare again…I mean seriously, that kind of stuff was in 1981 with Halloween II!
The film takes clear inspiration from a lot of films and some games, these including, Se7en, The Exorcist, Silent Hill 2, Outlast and Derricksons’s own The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I wouldn’t mind this so much, but some references are so blatant that it seriously took me out of the movie and made me get pissed. The film does do a very good job with atmosphere and letting scenes have quiet moments for more than ten seconds, but unfortunately most of these are interrupted with another jump scare that even my audience didn’t find scary.
The film has, of course, a Priest character (played by Edgar Ramirez) and while the character was clichéd and straight out of The Exorcist, the performance by Ramirez really was able to elevate the character to memorable status. Unfortunately with him being the best actor in the film, Eric Bana seems to just have his NY accent on all the time with little range of emotions. Near the end of the film, when a serious situation is erupting and he must interrogate a character, he seems calm and looks like he just wants to go home.
The film also has to shove in a wife and child character so the audience can relate to the horror, even though the kid is barely in the film and the wife character (played by Munn) is basically assigned to kitchen duty for the entirety of the film. The absolute worst sin the film does is the plot threads that go absolutely nowhere and it also commits the worst sin of all, by having an antagonist completely leave the film, with no conclusion to what happens to his character. Did he get cured? Did he get arrested? Did he just stay in that basement for the rest of the movie? Who knows.
I will give the film serious props for having the ultimate ending climax that was incredibly satisfying and lasted a good fifteen minutes. While it was VERY reminiscent of The Exorcist and the way that film ends, it still had its own take on what happens and really had the film ending on a high note. The film clocks in at two hours long, which is long for horror, and sadly it does feel its length, especially with a scene that felt like the climax, but had another thirty minutes to go before it actually ended.
Would I recommend Deliver Us From Evil? Not really, my standards for horror films isn’t all that high, cause most of the time I can overlook the dumb points of the plot to make way for the great scares, but in this case the scares didn’t work. They were all one note and the majority of the acting was on an uninteresting level, leaving the film with a very dull tone that doesn’t pick up the pace until a good hour and fifteen minutes in. I would only recommend it as a matinee or something at half price.
The trailer does NOT give away any spoilers or, for that matter, any plot details, which is GREAT.
Suggested rating, for those who want to know:
Rated R for Grisly Images, gore, terror and language.
As a side note about my screening, if I see another kid (like 4 or 5 years old) being brought to what is clearly an adult movie again I think I might complain to child services. For f**ks sakes this is a horror film and you also decide to sit in the front row? The good news is that the kid never cried or anything, but I have serious reservations about the content being shown to that kid.