So a priest, a detective and a comedian walk into a bar. The priest asks for a drink, the detective asks questions about a suspect, and the comedian tells an unrelated, inappropriate sexual joke no one really wanted to hear. I’ll save you the build up and eviscerated cats and just get to the punchline. The punchline is Deliver Us From Evil. Hey, I never said it was going to be a funny punchline, no matter how much it does try to be.
Detective Sarchie (Eric Bana) and Detective Butler (Joel McHale) are part of New York’s finest, defending the streets from criminals and apparently demonological disturbances. When an string of inexplicable deaths and murders happen, a Vatican demonologist named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) is sent in to investigate, because naturally, all the evil in the world is demon related. After they find themselves working on the same case, and looking for the same person, veteran soldier Santino (Sean Harris), they decide to team up as the most unlikeliest of duos. Sarchie will need Mendoza’s help now more than ever when the evil entity has started to target his wife Jen (Olivia Munn) and daughter. He soon will find out that his atheist ways are no match for demon based in Catholicism. If you’re wondering, yes, there is a strong pro-Catholic ending, which could possibly be the scariest part of the entire film.
To its benefit, Deliver Us From Evil reminds me of one of my favorite comic book characters, John Constantine, only split up between the priest and the detective. Just substitute Constantine’s signature smoking for the priests drinking, and give Constantine’s cunning and sleuthing skills to the detective. Where they differ is that Constantine’s Hellblazer comic is not riddled with cliches and lukewarm scares. Let’s also not forget to mention how Deliver Us From Evil claims it is based on real events. I can deal with false claims of verity but what I won’t stand for is a compilation of various police drama and horror film cliches, and this film has more than enough to spare. When the scares aren’t predictable and obvious, they are full of blood and gore. After about the third disemboweled animal you are just left thinking that the writer or director is not much of a cat person.
Speaking of the director, Scott Derrickson shows us his horror experience (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) by employing some of the same scaring techniques we have seen in his past films. The only exception would be Sinister since it was a bit more creative in its scares, but not by much. Cats jumping out, lights flickering and gore galore meant to shock a reaction out of you are just a few of the things to look forward to in this film. The most enjoyable part is the almost buddy cop relationship between the priest and the detectives. Not only is it well acted, but the chemistry is just right. Joel McHale plays pretty much the same character we know him to play, which doesn’t blend well with the already hodgepodge story.
Deliver Us From Evil fails to deliver a genuinely original take on the exorcism genre of horror, despite the story being preposterously based on “real” events. The story gives us everything we have come to expect from this type of movie, and it gives it to us in an all too familiar package. Some of you will enjoy the package, while others will wish it weren’t delivered at all.
RATING: ★★★★(4/10 stars)
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