Forget what you know about films that were “Based on a true story”. Forget the “Inspired by a true story”. Now we have a real kicker! This film was “Inspired by the actual accounts of an NYPD Sergeant”. The game has changed, people! Not only is this an inspirational story, but it’s got an NYPD Sergeant in the film and we get a supernatural detective story (which is actually pretty cool and creepy). They’re making horror history with this one, so be prepared for something slightly new!
In the heart of New York City, Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner Butler (Joel McHale) kick ass and take names. Ralph has a “radar”, as Butler calls it, that brings them to victims and offenders that the two tag and bag. During one case, the two found a man who beat his wife and daughter. Then, a women (Olivia Horton) went crazy at the Zoo and threw her child into a ravine. After that, a family’s basement is plagued by a supposed spirit that’s messing with them. Coincidentally, all three cases have victims and suspects who are linked together from war.
For the most part, the two men think nothing of “spiritual” doings, but a priest by the name of Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) starts to convince Ralph otherwise. After Ralph begins hearing things and seeing bloody images, he and the father team up to find a man named Santino (Sean Harris), who they believe to be responsible for cursing others. All along the way, they see the signs and inscriptions that deal with the devil. To keep his family (Olivia Munn & Lulu Wilson) safe, Ralph will need to face his problems head on and survive long enough to help perform an exorcism, before it’s too late.
Deliver Us From Evil plays out in the strangest of ways. It’s a few different type of movies in one and they work surprisingly well together. There are jump scares galore and comedy at every turn and I wound up having a pretty fun time with this movie, despite not being the biggest horror enthusiast. It doesn’t always work as a film and it’s certainly stretched out, but it has one of the best third acts for a horror film that I’ve seen in recent years and everything in that act is done so well that you almost forget about the first two entirely.
Eric Bana gives us one of his better performances in years as a troubled police sergeant with supernatural abilities. Bana’s character neglects his family and gets absorbed in his work and he plays the character so well, especially in emotional times where he’s reflecting on all the evil he sees firsthand. Edgar Ramirez’s priest is a complex character that he clearly has a lot of fun with. He has his reservations, but he also goes full-blown priest during an exorcism and it’s awesome. You also can’t forget Joel McHale, who more or less plays his character from Community and I loved everything that came out of his mouth. Sure, he’s the wise-cracking comic relief, but he’s funny and it worked for how overly serious some of this film is.
As far as horror is concerned, this film did a pretty great job of scaring me and creeping me out. There are a ton of jump scares to evoke knee-jerk reactions from you and they are all set up well enough to know that they’re coming. Still, they caught me off guard and I shrieked internally. The possessed victims in this film were so beyond freaky and they really earned their paychecks on this one. Holy lord were they frightening. Of course, this film’s highlight is the exorcism in the third act that is handled with such care and then loses that care and goes all out. It was so much fun to watch and the effects really emphasized how creepy it was.
I wasn’t overly fond of the filler dialouge that came with the territory, especially when it accounts for nearly a half-hour of overall time in the film. There were subplots that I didn’t care for and I don’t think the film cared much for them either. There’s a cool backstory behind all the possession and it’s never really capitalized on. It’s just kind of there and mentioned in passing and then the film cuts back to boring dialouge that starts to take you out. I mean, this film is almost two-hours long and it has no reason to be! As a 90-minute feature, it would have prospered much more.
Given that this film is nearly two-hours, other than hoping for it to be much shorter, I was hoping that we’d spend a bit more time with Olivia Munn and Bana’s family life. There’s some great dialouge to set up tension within the family, but then the film cuts away yet again and chooses to pursue other parts of another plot. Munn isn’t bad in the role, but she’s never given enough time or focus to do anything to make her standout in this film. She, just like their daughter, is just a prop for Bana and the bad guys.
Deliver Us From Evil is probably the best horror film that I’ve seen this year (grated, I’ve only seen one other) and it’s got enough scare to get by for now. It’s nowhere near as thrilling as Director Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister, but the exorcism scene and a few others will surely get your blood boiling. You’ll laugh, you’ll jolt, you’ll be disgusted, and you may even be horrified. For all that, I’d say this film does an adequate job for what it set out to do and if you’re in the mood for new release horror, you should check this film out!
Deliver Us From Evil Trailer