Deliver Us From Evil
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Written by: Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman
Starring: Eric Bana, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn and Edgar Ramirez
My thoughts when I left the theater after seeing Deliver Us From Evil? Deliver us from boredom. I’ve got to hand it to the marketers – they caught me hook, line and sinker. There’s no better way to lure a horror fan than by showing audiences shrieking and cowering in sheer terror. I wonder what movie that audience saw. Evil does not have a single scary moment. It’s just a rote retelling of exorcism stories any genre fan has seen countless times before. Even worse? It’s terribly bloated with an almost two hour running time, offering zero suspense to boot. I should know better by now. When the studios don’t screen a movie for the press, it’s generally not a vote of confidence.
Deliver Us from Evil initially takes place in Iraq, where a trio of soldiers encounters something sinister in an underground dwelling. Apparently one of them brought back a demon entity when he returned home. The setup is interesting enough, but unfortunately, that’s pretty much the last we hear about the origin of the story. There’s no explanation and no revisiting of the back story, which I suspect would have told a much more satisfying story than the drivel we’re subjected to.
Eric Bana stars as Sarchie, a New York police detective in the throes of severe burnout due to the atrocities he witnesses on the job. His marriage and relationship with his young daughter is tenuous at best, due to the amount of time he spends at work. When Sarchie and his partner Butler (Joel McHale) stumble across some bizarre happenings (specifically a mom tossing her toddler into a moat outside of the lion’s exhibit at the zoo), Sarchie quickly realizes these are no ordinary circumstances. He enlists the help of an unconventional catholic priest (Edgar Ramirez), an ex-heroin addict who swills liquor and chain-smokes to keep his proverbial demons at bay.
At times Evil is simply ludicrous. Most of the sequences take place in the dark, since light bulbs and flashlights go into convenient remission whenever there is an evil presence in the vicinity. A particularly painful scene involves Sarchie literally going into the lions’ den at the zoo (in the dark, of course) then exhibiting shock when the lions are let loose with him in the pen. Evil slogs along for the first hour and fifteen minutes, and mildly picks up the pace during the third act, but there are only about seven or eight minutes I would give a minor pass for being remotely scary.
I’m usually a fan of director Scott Derrickson (who also co-wrote the film). I thought he showed some promise with Sinister (2012) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), but this is a paint-by-the-numbers exorcism movie. It’s purported to be inspired by the true story of Sarchie, but that doesn’t warrant much. Olivia Munn co-stars as Sarchie’s wife, and McHale fares rather well as his partner.
I took my pre-teen and she had her hands over her face for most of the film. Perhaps that’s the demographic this farce has in mind. Seasoned horror fans will be horribly disappointed. This doesn’t even suffice as a psychological thriller. I’ve been more creeped out by episodes of Law and Order. – Shannon