Deliver Us from Evil
Director(s): Scott Derrickson
Writer(s): Scott Derrickson
Cast: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale, Chris Coy, Dorian Missick, Mike Houston and Lulu Wilson
Reviewed by: Christine Lambert on
Release Date(s)Jul 2, 2014 - Wide
Movies come in all shapes and sizes. Works of fiction require a suspension of disbelief that takes us to worlds full of talking mice and sulky vampires. Documentaries are meant to be informative. So when you have a film full of supernatural events like Deliver Us From Evil which is said to be inspired by actual events, is it meant to inform, entertain or both? And what if it fails miserably at delivering either?
Deliver Us From Evil opens with three US Marines descending into an underground chamber in Iraq where they encounter a malevolent presence that was captured on camera by one of the soldiers. Four years later, New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) finds a lifeless baby in an alleyway. After futilely performing CPR, Sarchie hands the child over. At this point in Sarchie’s career, he has seen one too many dead children and far too many horror stories from the streets that he works in. He has lost his faith in God and has grown apart from his wife (Olivia Munn) and daughter (Lulu Wilson). He responds to a domestic violence call, which introduces him to the first of three evil occurrences that will change his outlook and life forever.
Joel McHale and his luscious biceps play Sarchie’s partner Butler. His wise-cracking comments and expert use of knives against perpetrators creates an interesting juxtaposition with Bana’s character. Bana plays the tough, hardened, yet enervated officer, a character who has graced the screen many times before, but Bana’s take gives the words and actions life even if the story itself is questionable.
If Deliver Us From Evil was purely a work of fiction, then a lot of what is seen would get a pass for creativity. While it is not a true documentary and does not pretend to be — “inspired by” takes care of that — one does question the effect it will have on moviegoers. On the one hand, people who are not religious and do not believe in angels and demons will look at the possessed characters as drug-addled or mentally unstable. Sarchie himself says that the events are “nothing that can’t be explained by human nature”, wonderful foreshadowing of a cynical character if ever there was one.
On the other hand, there will be people that will use this film as proof, as evidence that evil lurks in the streets and inhabits those around them. The interesting thing is, the preconceived notions that people have will ultimately affect how they see this film. This film unfortunately is not strong enough to convert a non-believer of the supernatural but has just enough context to satisfy the believers. An example of this is the unorthodox priest played by Edgar Ramirez who drinks, smokes and at one time fornicated with a woman. These human and imperfect elements to these characters are what will hook believers of the supernatural to this film.
Running nearly two hours, Deliver Us From Evil is interesting enough that the time does not lag at all. Unfortunately, the dramatic license that was taken is not enough to convince any non-believer that ritualistic cleansing needs to be as ubiquitous as, say, brushing your teeth.