Since his first major film in 2005 Scott Derrickson has felt like a textbook case of untapped potential. While he has shown himself to be a good horror director I’ve found of choice of film to be lackluster for the most part. This made worse by him being the screenwriter for most of his movies. After the surprisingly fun Sinister I was intrigued to see what he had next in Deliver Us from Evil.
Based on actual events (in that Ralph Sarchie is a guy I guess) Deliver Us from Evil stars Eric Bana as Ralph Sarchie; a New York street cop who has become numbed by the job. His life further spirals when he is called in on a series of mysterious and disturbing cases one night. With seemingly no rhyme or reason he meets a Spanish priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) who is convinced that it is demon related. The two team up to try and prevent New York from diving into further chaos.
As I said Scott Derrickson can be a good horror director and Deliver Us from Evil is no exception. From a visual standpoint this is definitely great. From cinematography to set design everything is combined to deliver a suspenseful experience. Another unique aspect is the choice of music. Like Stir of Echoes’ use of “Paint it Black” The Doors are used as fun if on the nose clues to where the story is going. It’s a unique and different way to build to the scares. I just wish the movie could live up to the buildup. Surprisingly there are a lot of really cheap jump scares. Hell we even get one of those “Oh it was just a cat” scares. I thought we unofficially outlawed those. Sadly these are frequent and ultimately ruin any actual scares.
The plot isn’t much to talk about either. Early on it is could be implied that what is happening could be the result of PTSD and coming back from the war broken. This could have been a cool way to go about things. These hopes are quickly dashed away when things become apparent that it’s possession and any mystery is thrown out the window. From then on we get a mix of supernatural and crime thriller that we’ve seen tons of times before like in Fallen.
Eric Bana is tasked with carrying the majority of the scenes and he pulls it off for the most part. Ignoring the New Yorkest of New York accents I think he portrayed a cop that has been through the wringer pretty well. The same can be said of Edgar Ramirez as Mendoza. Well when he gets to do stuff. Despite having the most complex character he is seemingly nothing but exposition and the occasional exorcism. The supporting cast doesn’t fare much better though. Joel McHale is the sidekick cop who will crack a joke that will more than likely be forgotten about in a minute or two. Essentially he is Jeff Winger with some obviously fake tattoos. At least he gets a couple of solid zingers. Oliva Munn plays Bana’s wife and the most memorable thing about her is her accent disappearing halfway through the movie. Besides that I can’t think of a single thing she did of note. By no means is their fault either. They were just that poorly written.
If this were some kind preview for Derrickson’s Dr. Strange movie it would be great. The world he crafted here was interesting visually and built up a suspense that worked. As a fully fledged movie these positives are overcome by a banal story with very little pay off to the scares that are built up. It’s a movie that tries to mix The Exorcist and Se7en but fails at being either one. Unless you REALLY want to see Jeff Winger get into a knife fight.