Deliver Us from Evil: It just doesn't deliver the goods

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJuly 3, 2014 

Film Review Deliver Us From Evil

This image released by Sony Pictures shows Joel McHale, left, and Eric Bana in a scene from Screen Gems' "Deliver Us From Evil." (AP Photo/Sony Pictures, Andrew Schwartz)

ANDREW SCHWARTZ — AP

Eric Bana plays Ralph Sarchie. He's a real-life, rough and tumble New York City police officer who investigates the beating of a wife. That leads him and his partner into a case of demonic possession. The possessed are three former U.S. Marines who got ghosted-up after checking out a cave in Iraq.

The investigation connects them with a priest who just happens to be connected to the wife of one of the soldiers. While singing and mumbling a song from the rock band The Doors, she tosses her baby over a rail at a zoo. That's done at the behest of the soldier who seems to be leading the group.

The songs of the band apparently -- and loosely -- connect the events Sarchie and his partner investigate. It all leads to overly-long chase scenes and an ugly and also overly-long climax.

Deliver Us from Evil is co-written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman, who penned The Exorcism of Emily Rose and is directed by Derrickson, who also directed Emily and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

The movie is based on Sarchie's book Beware the Night. I haven't read the book, but it's doubtful this is exactly a "true" story. My research says it takes several paranormal events Sarchie writes that he investigated and ties them together as one event.

And whether those events really happened and whether they were real demonic possessions is still up in the air. So it's best to say Deliver Us from Evil is "inspired" by Sarchie's book.

The bottom line is Derrickson is a pretty good storyteller and admittedly, Deliver Us from Evil is riveting from the opening scenes until it gets to the aforementioned, nerve-grinding, almost terminally long and very predictable ending.

It also does things you've seen in dozens of other like-themed movies. It's dark. It's dreary. Lights in rooms are dim. They inexplicably go out. Weird sounds accompany every exploration of a room and so on. It's all stuff you've seen before. To give Derrickson and Boardman credit, however, they don't do a lot of the manipulative things popping off the screen to a loud musical note.

Good for them.

What they don't do is create a compelling and original horror story. It's being billed as the new The Exorcist, but that's really misleading. While I'm not a fan of that movie and don't think it's quite as good as most critics say, it's light years more original and intense than this one.

In the end Deliver Us from Evil just doesn't deliver the goods.

Director: Scott Derrickson

Stars: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Joel Hale, Sean Harris

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated R for graphic horror, mature themes, language. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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