In Review: Deliver Us From Evil

by Daniel Goodwin on 20/08/2014


After stirring up scares with the half decent Sinister (2012), director Scott Derrickson stumbles massively with this cop horror follow up. Deliver Us From Evil is a hackneyed hybrid of Se7en (1995) and The Last Exorcism (2010), merging genre chestnuts with riffs from Fincher’s oft-mimicked classic, including dark, dilapidated crime scenes with creepy interiors lit up by the beams of cop flashlights.

Eric Bana plays Ralph Sarchie, a struggling cop/ family man investigating a string of seemingly random and bizarre crimes linked to some mysterious Iraq vet’s graffiti. After discovering the crimes are out of character for the culprits committing them, Sarchie teams up with a hip, ruffian priest (Édgar Ramírez), partial to the odd tipple, who believes that acts of possession are occurring throughout the Bronx.

A creaky production and shoddy central concept, based on a book by the real-life Sarchie, hinder what there is of a plot while the weary, over-morose atmosphere and excessive Fincher nods do little to compensate. Bana does his best in the role despite cardboard dialogue and botched direction whereas Olivia Munn provides little depth as Sarchie’s wife, merely illustrating the protagonist’s struggle to balance work and family life.

Sean Harris is fun as possessed vet Santino, conveying a ghoulish intensity, but a segue-way into squiffy CG absurdity flattens his performance while inducing eye-rolling ennui in the latter half. There are also baffling references to The Doors’ music dotted throughout with demons quoting lyrics and non-diegetic songs on the soundtrack while Ramirez’s renegade priest is a ringer for Jim Morrison.

Despite the many flaws, the editing is slick, there is a terrific end title sequence and some of the intended comedy works: a scene featuring an arrested hoodlum in a police office with a two-way mirror while an exorcism occurs in the next room is amusing. But on the whole Deliver Us From Evil fails to chill, disturb or successfully induce shock tactic jolts.

This pot-boiler horror is a hotchpotch of traits that drifts into dross by the second act and is a misstep for Scott Derrickson, who will soon be calling the shots on Marvel’s Dr Strange. Despite a patchy but entertaining opening, Deliver Us From Evil ticks off clichés and cut-price boo jumps, amounting to nothing more than a drowsy supernatural thriller not worthy of cinema release.

Daniel has awarded Deliver Us From Evil one Torch Of Truth


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