“Deliver Us From Evil” underwhelms with already overdone premise
As my search for a creeptacular horror movie continues, I stop at Deliver Us From Evil, a 2014 horror-thriller directed by Scott Derrickson, from whom we saw the chilling Sinister in 2012 (one of the better modern horror movies, if I may add, save for that ending), and starring Eric Bana, Joel McHale, Édgar Ramirez, Sean Harris, and Olivia Munn.
The movie is about NYPD detective Ralph Sarchie as he attempts to solve a seemingly simple abuse case that turns into a voyage that challenges the previous church boy’s moral and religious beliefs. Reluctantly teaming up with Priest Mendoza (Ramírez) and his partner Butler (McHale), Sarchie sets out to uncover the truth.
The movie benefits from Derrickson‘s bleak style in directing; the shots are mostly accompanied by a dark filter that adds to the gloominess of the film’s overall mood. If anything, the directing makes it a genre-faithful New York crime-thriller.
Bana stars in the movie as Detective Sarchie, a huband and father who devotes more time to his job than he does to his family, a problem wife Jen (Munn) brings up multiple times. Bana does an okay job with his character. It was nothing more than average. But let’s not blame the actor alone. The part was utterly boring and cliché. The macho I-am-everyone’s-hero act got old very quickly, and Bana played into the overdone aspects of his character more and more. Unoriginal at best. In truth, I disliked the character.
The same can be said about Butler, played by the always humourous Joel McHale, except the actor did a good job. He was your typical, sarcastic sidekick minus the arrogance you’d expect from such characters. From the very beginning, there’s a likability to him that you can’t discard. He makes the most he can of his role.
As for Priest Mendoza, he was a little bit more interesting and original. When you get movies like this, the priest is always put on some sort of holy pedestal of eternal goodness where no wrong can be done no sir, but in Deliver Us From Evil, Mendoza — played by Édgar Ramírez — is humanised; his mistakes are brought up, he openly does things priests shouldn’t do, and acknowledges the fact that man cannot resist temptation. That’s quite refreshing to see.
The first half of the movie was better than the second. The movie opens with all sorts of strange things happening that keep one intrigued. I was glued to the screen, trying to understand what was going on, but the resolve was lackluster at best. The film goes from interesting to overbearingly cliché. The events of the plot just get boring, and by the time the film ends, there are still unadressed loopholes — which wouldn’t be a problem if I actually cared enough to wonder. I didn’t.
The horror aspect of the film was also underwhelming. It started off good, but the ending — although well-made — was such a cop-out to what could have been much, much more.
One of the best scores for any horror movie/series I’ve heard is that of American Horror Story. There’s a cynism and diabolic aapect to the score that Deliver Us From Evil could have done with, but instead we got mainstream songs that were just bad for the film. As for the script, it was exactly what you’d expect from a crime thriller, but given the lead character’s struggle with faith, some philosophy would have been interesting. It would have made for a much better argument than “Why dies God let people die?” Please. The character practically gives in to it first chance he gets. It basically goes like this (not really, but you’ll get the gist):
-Mendoza: you must find your faith.
*2 minutes later*
-Sarchie: omg, found it! Go Jesus!
Overall, Deliver Us From Evil delivers (had to) absolutely nothing new and provocative. It just sits there. While it’s nice to look at and is well shot, it’s ultimately a bore you could do without.
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