Possession horrors of late have been pretty horrific – whether you look at the “Paranormal Activitys” or “Excorcism ofs” flicks, they all feel rehashed or dumbed down. So it’s refreshing to see a new take on the genre that knows how to scare and has some fun doing it.
A New York City detective and his partner (Eric Bana, Joel McHale playing against type) spend their evenings responding to the most dangerous cases in the city. Little do the duo know that a new evil has begun to infest the inhabitants of the big apple after three soldiers return from active duty in probably the only tropical area in Iraq. Possessed by an evil spirit, these soldiers set a string off a string of bizarre and violent events that lead science and mysticism together on path to dispel it.
Fans of The Exorcist or The Conjuring will be delighted with Deliver Us From Evil, in fact it’s one of the better horror films to come out of Hollywood in recent years, so fans of the genre should make a mission of seeing the film.
The Bottom Line
As you may have read in my review of Adam Sandler’s Blended, a comedy need only fulfil the single criteria of being funny – it’s a raw genre and oddly enough goes hand in hand with the horror genre. A horror film should be scary or at the very least creepy, and while meeting this criteria takes a significant amount of skill in comparison to pulling chuckles, it’s still a singular objective.
Deliver Us From Evil is a film that ensures the scares and oozes tension to spare and that is why it meets the expectations of its genre so effectively, but the film is much more than just a creepy tale. The pacing is close to perfection and only lags at one instance; technically the film is well crafted and even though it can fall on the campy side from time to time, it serves as an indication that the creators aren’t taking themselves too seriously – something that The Exorcist did with absolute pitch perfection.
Eric Bana plays the role of Sarchie – a hard-boiled police dick (that’s detective fyi) and a real gumshoe that believes what he sees and only what he sees. However, as mentally hardened as he may be, he is soon swayed to believe that not everything is as it seems through the counselling of Father Mendoza (played by Édgar Ramírez) who happens to be the preacher responsable for one of the possessed individuals that Sarchie takes in. It’s a neat, uncomplicated film where science meets superstition, and is said to be based on true events – the nature of the truth however is somewhat dubious and should not be what makes the film special.
What really makes this film stand out from the crowd is how director/writer Scott Derrickson masks his intriguing project with a visage of b-grade crappiness. When the opening title rolled, I was certain that this film was going to be the worst thing I had seen since Transformers – on first exhibition it looked to embrace its b-grade routes, but it soon unravelled into an exciting and refreshing cinematic experience. My expectations were lowered only to be raised, giving this film a twist on a fundamental level in addition to the twists that you’d expect in this genre.
Deliver Us From Evil isn’t the best possession horror to date, but it shows that Hollywood does have ability to rock the boat from time to time. The acting is unashamedly unsophisticated and the story itself won’t win any awards, but the fact that this movie isn’t just another derivative scare-fest and also makes good on entertainment value, leaves Deliver Us From Evil as one of the highlights in the blockbuster calender.
It’s possession horror meets crime detective noir thriller and it gets our stamp of approval.