Deliver Us From Evil – Review

 

The latest entry into the horror canon to be “based on a true story” (if all of these “true stories" were actually true, our everyday lives by now would be like the third act from Ghostbusters), Deliver Us From Evil manages a handful of significant triumphs for the genre. Firstly, it’s actually pretty decent as a suspenseful and engaging horror procedural; secondly, it’s easily the most visually impressive micro-budget horror project of the year so far; and thirdly, it’s got a great pair of leads in Édgar Ramirez and Eric Bana.

 

With an unusual emphasis on the procedural element, Deliver Us From Evil follows NYPD sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Bana) as he investigates a series of random yet seemingly connected crimes. Unable to deny the supernatural influence at work, Sarchie teams up with a decidedly unconventional priest (Ramirez) and sets about fighting a wave of possessions striking the city. It’s not sparklingly original admitedly, but it’s at least sufficiently entertaining and the screenplay by director Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman manages to compensate more so by allowing the two leads some genuine character exploration at the behest of some superb writing.

 

Bana is on fine form – although seems irksomely pretty for the role – but Ramirez is the real star here. Imbuing Father Mendoza with an innate charm typically lacking from the token priest role, Ramirez is thoroughly engrossing throughout. Olivia Munn is perfectly fine in a somewhat diminutive role as Sarchie’s wife, and there’s a genuinely hilarious sidekick role for Community’s Joel McHale as Sarchie’s sarcastic cop partner that serve as a rallying cry to writers everywhere that wit and humour are somewhat missing from contemporary horror.

 

What sets Deliver Us From Evil apart from the year’s other micro-budget horror efforts however, is the distinct visual flare brought to the screen by Derrickson. From a low-budget horror pedigree, Derrickson’s only typically “Hollywood” effort to date has been the 2008 remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still and yet his work since then (2012’s Sinister and this) are both the works of someone with a great eye for intriguing camerawork and framing that actually interests the viewer. A simple bar conversation in Deliver Us From Evil is more visually interesting than any of the Paranormal Activity movies and serves as a great example of what Derrickson (who was recently snatched up by Marvel for Doctor Strange) can do.

 

Ultimately, Deliver Us From Evil works on the trifecta of the leads, the visuals and the script; it shirks the notion that contemporary horror need fall on its ass in the third act with startling confidence, and whilst it may not be the greatest movie of the year, it’s a movie you’ll see on TV whilst channel-hopping in years to come that’ll make you stop every time.

 

 

Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.

 

In it
Eric Bana, Édgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn

Behind it
Scott Derrickson




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