As far as Horror movies go, clichés like flickering lamps, pin-drop silences, ghastly imagery, and demonic possessions are not uncommon. They have been used time and again on the big screen to deliver scares because they are always effective. However, the audiences haven’t seen the ‘horrifying’ side of Horror movies in recent times, as filmmakers recourse to gore and violence to instill fear. This changed with last year’s The Conjuring, which paid more attention to storytelling than close-ups of broken limbs. Scott Derrickson’s latest supernatural-thriller Deliver Us from Evil, manages to fit somewhere between these two polarities. At times, it uses a rich narrative, and at times, it is downright scary.
Deliver Us from Evil is based on the true-life account of retired NYPD police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana). The cop works the graveyard shift at the station and has a particular gift, which his colleague Butler (Joel McHale) refers to as the ‘Radar’. He can somehow sense the presence of the paranormal. When he starts investigating a series of eerie incidents throughout the Bronx neighborhood, he realizes these are more than mere crime cases. Worse yet, his own wife (Olivia Munn) and daughter might be at risk. Joined by a Jesuit priest (Edgar Ramirez), he must now battle the evil that is dead-set on destroying his life, and that of others.
Though the movie starts off as a thrilling buddy-cop story, it quickly evolves into much more. The parts where Sarchie tries to investigate the shocking occurrences are most-thrilling. By only using halos created by torch-lights and an unsettling background score, the director shows that he is, in fact, very familiar to the genre. For all fans of classic Horror flicks – yes, there is a basement scene, but it could be a little more than your stomach can handle.
The VFX is very limited in the film, but has been used well. It is most-notable in its final moments, where you will find yourself clenching your fist, and squirming in your seat. The audio complementing the scenes help add that creepy element. This is because almost every track by The Doors is used at some point in the film. We aren’t told why the band’s music plays a symbolic role in the plot, but hey, it’s Jim Morrison!
Eric Bana is at the top of his game as Ralph Sarchie. The versatile actor embodies the character and is more than just dark and brooding. His Italian accent still has a hint of Australian though, but these are momentary lapses in an otherwise wholesome performance. His partner in crime-solving, played by Joel McHale, is a wise-cracking but tough-as-nails cop and does a good part himself. Olivia Munn’s character is highly-underutilized, and rightly so, because she doesn’t really have anything significant to add to her role. Edgar Ramirez, as the chain-smoking Jesuit priest, may seem like a bad casting choice, but he douses these doubts pretty fast. It is Sean Harris‘ portrayal of the possessed Santino that stands out wonderfully, and makes sure you feel disgust and sympathy for the character all at once.
Despite strong performances and a well-paced plot, there are times when Deliver Us from Evil leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Mainly, why is the demon out to destroy the victims? And what is the secret behind some of the inscriptions on the walls? Add to that Edgar Ramirez’s incoherent mumbling, and you will find yourself a little confused at times. The movie still builds up to its superb finale, and for a moment, you may ignore the discrepancies in the script.
Why should you watch this film?
Deliver Us from Evil is backed by an experienced director and a brilliant cast. The story is good, the horror element is ever-present, and no matter who you are, it WILL make you jump in your seat every now and then. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of modern-day blood and gore, or classic exorcism flicks, this movie has something for everyone.