Movie Review: 'Deliver Us From Evil'

‘Deliver Us From Evil’ from director Scott Derrickson (‘Sinister‘) is part supernatural thriller, part police procedural, and another solid genre outing for the director.

Eric Bana (‘Munich’, Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’) plays former NYPD Detective Ralph Sarchie. ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ is based on Sarchie’s own accounts of his encounters with supernatural forces during his time on the police force in the Bronx, New York.

Shot on location in the Bronx, ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ benefits from its own local atmosphere and adds a sense of gritty realism to the otherworldly goings-on for the Special Ops Detective and his partner.

 

The film begins with a flashback in Iraq, with three U.S. soldiers discovering and investigating an underground bunker and exposing themselves to an unknown, powerful, and evil force.

Now present day, the audience encounters Detective Sarchie as he cradles the body of a lifeless infant, whom he has failed to resuscitate. The audience is given the impression early on that our hero has dealt with some pretty awful shit already…just through actor Bana’s body language and expressions.

Sarchie’s “radar,” as his partner (Joel McHale) calls it, seems to draw both of them rushing to respond to police radio dispatches that other detectives would happily refuse. What’s obvious is that somehow the evil discovered in Iraq and a series of violent and bizarre crimes back home are linked together. The recurring presence of a Jesuit priest (Edgar Martinez) does foreshadow some of the story developments to follow.

What is unique about ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ isn’t the red herrings and the genre stereotypes…it’s that the film has other strengths that left me not caring about them.

Let’s face it, genre films are formulaic. Movies are made intentionally formulaic to deliver “the goods” for the ticket buyer. There’s a more interesting story lurking beneath, and possibly even a series of interesting films had ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ enjoyed better box-office success.

After reading more about Detective Sarchie, who actually retired and became a demonologist, the screen story for ‘Deliver Us’ is actually based on several of his cases and given an inclusive arc to make the film more “cinematic.”

Eric Bana gives a solid performance, as does Edgar Martinez, and their two characters appear to have the foundations of what could be an interesting relationship if there turned out to be more films based on Sarchie.  A faithless Detective and a troubled Jesuit priest teaming up to battle demons? Sounds a little like the cop-priest relationship in William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist,’ but it plays well here, too.

In addition to solid performances from its lead actors, director Derrickson once again shows a flair for creating some fairly disturbing imagery, as he has done with his previous films. ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ earned the R-rating with some graphic depictions of violence and an appropriate level of F-Bombs, given the subject matter.

Director Scott Derrickson has proven to be a reliable horror genre director, and ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ is certainly worth your 90 minutes on DVD and streaming services. What could have been another rote jump-scare horror entry is classed up by the direction, production values, lead actors, and occasional sense of Bronx realism thanks to shooting in the actual borough where Sarchie worked.

Flixnerd Rating: ‘Deliver Us From Evil’

★★★☆☆

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