THE STORY: The mechanics around Deliver Us From Evil is loosely taken from the 1973’s The Exorcist, displaying a lot of similarity in the story, which begins with the unleashing of demon from the desert in the Middle East. The evil arrives home, but in the form of a retired soldier, Santino (Sean Harris) who recently started a painting job company with his tour mates. Eric Bana plays Ralph Sarchie, a NY police officer who investigates a series of randomly domestic crimes in Bronx that do not add up but eventually leads to up Santino. An unconventional Jesuit priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) offers to help in these cases, but seemingly also comes with a warning that demonic force is at work.
FORMULAIC AND PREDICTABLE: Despite having a conscious plot that spells for possible exorcism it the end, this movie ultimately relies too much on the sound-based scary trick to do its work, hence diluting many of its fright factors away. I enjoyed the amalgamation of the two interesting concepts of police procedural and demonic exorcism as presented here. Reinvigorating - that is as much as how I also enjoyed the courtroom procedural in The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but the downright predictable and formulaic delivery of the story makes the engagement for this movie less appreciable. It could be also forgettable along the lines of numerous supernatural horror flicks all year around.
The problems lie within its script, which is penned by Derrickson and collaborator Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Urban Legends: Final Cut). As I have said before; while the ability of having random cases been tied by a single explainable notion and narrated from a police officer’s point-of-view were set-up well, but it will only get interesting as long as there is no hiccup, nonsensical and plot-hole ridden style all over it.
NONSENSICAL PLOT: One of my issues with the script is clearly with the questionable story and character building that does not make any sense and those cheap dialogues ruin them ever further. At one point Sarchie informed Father Mendoza about his personal issues that he has sidelined his family for years, but the earlier scenes showed him passionately smooching his wife and enthusiastically attending his daughter’s soccer game. Or how about Sarchie went to one of the soldier’s home, investigated some strange videos on a laptop, then attacked by a demonically possessed man, but calmly returned later to watch more?
These contradictions may look small but they hive a rather misleading thought. The family issue works as a core in various similarly-themed horror, but the underwhelming and misguided development in here is more of a distraction than an attraction. Another issue for me is obviously the lack of depth of these central characters. It is a shame that the story does not bother to give Bana’s character a little more depth. His lapsed Catholic faith is strangely explained and the exploited historically guilt over a man named Marvin is not smartly used in the movie. Nevertheless, I thought Mendoza’s back story is quite interesting and I would love to see a standalone movie about him.
THE REDEMPTION POINT: But even with a predictable plot, lack of shock moments and unfavourable family drama, Scott Derrickson should be given some credits for consistently trying to elevate the mood to a chilly and creepy. But that is clearly not enough and I wish there are more imaginative and coherent story to go for, and more creative scary tricks to look for. I generally like how they started it off and how they ended it with exposition-filled exorcism ritual for the dummies. Deliver Us From Evil is not entirely all too bad, it is just being a too silly to be a horror epic and likely it will not be remembered more than a month from now on.