Dir: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Chris Coy, Sean Harris, Olivia Horton and Joel McHale
Synopsis: NY police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorizing their city.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Based on retired NYPD detective Ralph Sarchie’s memoir “Beware the Night,“ (I have not read the book so I don’t know how faithful it is) Deliver Us From Evil follows Bronx cop Sarchie (Bana) as he investigates a series of grisly and eerie crimes that end up being connected by the supernatural. He eventually crosses paths with a Jesuit priest and exorcist Mendoza (Ramirez). Mendoza tells him that there is two types of evil, and the evil he’s dealing with is one that he should not underestimate. Sarchie however doesn’t believe Mendoza because, of course, everything can be explained. Sarchie also has a hard time believing in religion because he never got anything from it. This leads the two of them to down a dangerous path against a demon.
Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister), who has quickly become one of my favorite directors (and will direct Marvel’s Doctor Strange), gives the movie a nice mix of police procedural and supernatural thriller. The police material is great and for the first half of the movie, it’s all cop stuff with some supernatural aspects with the second half following more of the supernatural with some cop stuff. The good thing is that Derrickson does not give too much of the supernatural elements. He teases us throughout the movie but not enough to annoy but enough to keep us interested. That’s one of the things Derrickson does so well in his movies. It’s the slow builds that make the third acts in his movie worthwhile. Like his other films Derrickson manages to evoke gritty imagery and makes New York, more partially, the Bronx a character in itself.
The supernatural stuff is more or less of the same we’ve seen in other movies. It’s creepy, disturbing, eerie and sometimes gut-wrenching. But Derrickson already has a knack for directing the genre that it still creeps you out when it unfolds. The demon’s plot, might seem a little “meh” for people but once we find out what’s going on we are already invested in Sarchie’s character and everything else that it (at least to me) didn’t matter.
There are some things that might take some people out of it. Obviously for the sake of no spoilers I won’t write them, but considering this is a supernatural/demon/exorcism movie, it hopefully won’t throw people off that much.
As for the cast, mostly everyone does a pretty good job. One of the missteps is Olivia Munn’s wife character. It’s nothing against her and her acting but more dealing with her character being underwritten and really having nothing to do expect for two scenes. Surprisingly, and nothing against him because I do like him, Joel McHale gives a nice turn as a badass and Sarchie’s wise-cracking partner who has a thing for knifes.
Eric Bana is reliable as ever and plays Sarchie as the audience’s skeptical surrogate. And props to him, and the rest of the cast, for putting on strong New York accents but Bana gets the most props since he’s not even American. Next to Bana, the movie’s other highlight is Edgar Ramirez. Most exorcists in movies tend to be old men whose faith is either tested or being lost but Ramirez’s Mendoza is much more complicated than that. His past isn’t a bright one but it’s that past that makes him keep his life together. He drinks, smokes, checks out girls, and wears a leather jacket, but that doesn’t stop him from knowing what has to be done.
A special mention also has to be given to Sean Harris as the man possessed making Sarchie and Mendoza’s life hell (no pun intended). The character could have been laughable or just a character that stands in the shadows. It’s Harris’ intense performance alongside Bana and Ramirez’s that make the demon-battling scenes a little more give. The same is to be said about Olivia Horton’s Jane, which we’ve seen in the promotional material.
All in all, Deliver Us from Evil might be a little dull than the other exorcism movies but Derrickson manages to keep us invested with his powerful imagery. Add Bana, Ramirez, and Harris’ performances and it makes the movie a little stronger and much more than an exorcism movie.
Deliver Us from Evil
4.5 out of 5