Deliver Us From Evil is as average as average can be and still winds up being a passable piece of entertainment

by Steve Pulaski

There’s nothing in Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil that hasn’t been done before and done considerably better in other films that may even have more of a lasting impact than the one we have at hand here. However, Deliver Us From Evil is as average as average can be and still winds up being a passable piece of entertainment that provides long-suffering horror movie fans with their first worthwhile mainstream horror film of the year.

Ignoring Wolf Creek 2, my favorite horror movie of the year and Joy Ride 3: Roadkill, a fitting sequel to an underrated franchise, the mainstream circuit of horror cinema in 2014 has seem some hard-hitting flops. From the year opening to a critically and financially disappointing Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, to following it up with the absolutely lackluster Devil’s Due, to the critical and financial bomb of The Quiet Ones, the horror franchise has seen better days than what it has been treated with this year. If one thinks back to last year – when great horror films like The Conjuring, Evil Dead, and V/H/S/2 were coming out – it’s no secret that this year is, in many regards, disappointing.

Deliver Us from Evil
Directed by
Scott Derrickson
Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn
Release Date
2 July 2014
Steve’s Grade: B-

Deliver Us From Evil is the kind of film that really should’ve been released in August, as it plays like that middling kind of late-August movie fare, but somehow got lucky enough to come out on the weekend of Fourth of July, usually one of the busiest and most lucrative weekends for Hollywood of the fiscal year. The film is based off the true events of Ralph Sarchie, a New York police officer who found himself wrapped up in a police case that tested his otherwise secular religious beliefs and his sanity all together. His person is given the immensely capable talent Eric Bana to play his character, a cut-throat, no-nonsense man in a way that isn’t coldly unbelievable or depressingly caricaturing.

Sarchie begins investigating incredibly disturbing crimes and winds up joining forces with Mendoza, a Spanish priest, who is a professional in the fields of demonic possession and exorcisms to try to find ways to dismantle the Bronx’s frighteningly warped senses from the very evils of Satan.

Bana is the ideal character for Sarchie, a police officer who, even after much experience and training with the field, still finds it difficult to maintain an open relationship with his wife Jen (Olivia Munn) and their young daughter. Sarchie finds it difficult to put on a happy father face when with his family, when all he sees is disgust, hell, and ugliness when working on his job. Bana brings a pleasant, slick sense of excitement to his role as Sarchie, again, not emphasizing the caricature of the “tough-as-nails cop” but the realistic man on the job who simply wants to get down to the bottom of a complex case.

Furthermore, cinematographer Scott Kevan (who worked on the woodsy cinematography for Cabin Fever and the interesting, teal-toned cinematography for the unseen Darkest Hour) works to provide the Bronx area with some amazing shots of seamy locations that could almost pass for contemporary film noir in terms of what they choose to show and develop. Kevan makes New York a character in itself, and despite the prime focus on jump scares and eerie little horror setpieces, he still manages to emphasize the greatness that is environment.

As stated before, there’s nothing unique to Deliver Us From Evil and its long-term impact is heavily questionable. However, with the abundance of exorcism films we’ve gotten over the years, from the inexcusable Devil Inside to the boring Rite, Deliver Us From Evil reminds us that the genre can be done right and with some added flair. Derrickson, who worked wonders on 2012’s little horror gem Sinister, proves that he will be a name to watch in the horror genre over the next few years, alongside the likes of Adam Wingard, Ti West, and Eli Roth, proving that horror isn’t dead yet but just too often on autopilot.