DELIVER US FROM EVIL // Some day, hopefully soon, horror filmmakers will realize that certain tropes are not scary anymore. One of these tropes is checking under the bed. “Deliver Us From Evil” leaned heavily on this scare in their marketing campaign. Even messing with expectations after checking under the bed is now an overused motif. If there was nothing under the bed, something will provide a scare following the mislead. Obviously, horror tropes exist for a reason and can still be achieved with brilliance, but when films are as lazy about them as “Deliver Us From Evil,” one prays for the day that filmmakers exorcise their own bad habits.
Speaking of overused ideas, “Deliver Us From Evil” is “based on a true story,” which apparently almost every film being made today is printed with the same monicker. In this case, however, the film is adapted from the 2001 non-fiction book entitled “Beware the Night,” written by an actual New York cop named Ralph Sarchie, of whom the film is based. Following Sarchie (Eric Bana) as he encounters some paranormal phenomenon while on duty, the unique element to this film and specifically stemming from the press tour, was actor Eric Bana stating that he was shown photographic proof of an actual exorcism and even stated, “it will be forever etched into my brain”. Owned by the NYPD, that evidence is unfortunately impossible to find on the internet. Chances are that footage is far more scary than anything in this Jerry Bruckheimer produced feature.
The immensely talented Édgar Ramírez portrays Mendoza, the unconventional priest that eventually convinces Sarchie that the devil is at play. Reminding heavily of “The Exorcist”, I begin to wonder whether a film about exorcism can even be made in this day and age, without feeling too reminiscent of the William Friedkin classic. With Sarchie and Mendoza teamed up, they allow for a nice balance between genres, heading an intense cop thriller with a dash of classic horror themes sprinkled in. Had director Scott Derrickson taken some broader steps, this could have easily lived up to notion that it actually happened. But somehow, behind all the fake skin carvings and weak attempts at scares, “Deliver Us From Evil” makes a pun out of its own name by being a completely average, by-the-book horror venture.
[Directed by Scott Derrickson] [R] [118 min] [2 July 2014]