The demonic possession/exorcism sub-genre is popular these days in mainstream horror and most, if not all, are “based on true events”. Such is the case with Sinister director Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil starring Eric Bana, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn and Edgar Ramirez. “Based on true events”= not entirely the truth but there’s pieces of it sprinkled in an overly embellished story. In a movie season typically reserved for mega blockbusters Deliver Us From Evil neglected to serve us anything other than tropes from movies of a similar style. Read below for more.
Deliver Us From Evil is based on the real life Ralph Sarchie’s book, “Beware the Night“, which details many of his paranormal investigations as an NYPD police officer turned demonologist. The movie introduces us to Bana as Sarchie, a rough around the edges New York cop who takes on a run of the mill domestic assault case alongside his partner, Butler, played by McHale. The case, however, doesn’t seem to be as cut and dry as they thought it would be when, through several reveals and a ruggedly handsome hard-drinking Jesuit priest, they find that other similar cases are demonically linked. With a personal demon of his own, Ralph Sarchie goes from skeptical cop to psychic, demon hunter.
Deliver us From Evil is overflowing with clichés; the overbearing score preparing you for the classic jump scares, dead animals, possessed toys, cops never thinking to call backup. You name it, Deliver Us From Evil has it! Joel McHale stepped right out of a gym onto the set with his bulking muscles as the film’s comedic relief and the police department’s resident…knife fighter? The tone of the movie was far too serious to need any wise cracking, although it neither took away from nor benefited the movie. Let’s leave the snarky jokes for your TV show, shall we?
I’m the first one to admit that a good possession movie will scare the sh*t out of me any day (um hello, The Conjuring) but Deliver Us From Evil was really only successful in startling you with scares you knew were already coming (thanks warning score!) I left the theater not even scared to go to the bathroom alone. Several plot holes later and you’re left dissatisfied with a movie you felt like you’ve seen many times before. Having previously directed another possession movie with The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the uber creepy Sinister, I was sure that Derrickson had this one in the bag. Clocking in at a few minutes shy of 2 hours, this movie should have ended 30 min before it did considering a big fight scene that took place felt more like the climax then the actual last 20 min.
The movie wasn’t all terrible, however. The origins of all the demon shenanigans was entertaining as was the priest educating us on the stages of demonic possession mid-exorcism. Despite the poor accent, Bana acted the part of Ralph Sarchie well; A for effort. And Olivia Munn as Sarchie’s wife was a sight for sore eyes even though she was confused about everything 90% of the time.
Deliver Us From Evil will come as a disappointment to horror fans of his previous works. More cop movie than horror, it definitely delivered us from two things: geniune scares and a strong plot.