Preface from Jay of the Dead: Where is Episode 020?
Horror Movie Podcast, Episode 020 was due to release on July 4, 2014. But on my birthday, July 2, my computer died just two hours before we were going to record the show. Long story short: You will still get Episode 020 in all its glory, but unfortunately, it will release a week late: next Friday, July 11, 2014. The good news? Episode 021 will release the following Friday, July 18, and it’s another themed episode! Our apologies for the week-long delay, but we’ll be back on schedule soon. It’s especially frustrating because Episode 020 is a “Horror on the Fourth of July”-themed episode that was intended to be released on July 4. So, in order to cover the newest horror films in theaters, Jay of the Dead has gone “old school” and provided you a written movie review of “Deliver Us From Evil” below.
Deliver Us From Evil (2014) Movie Review
Review by Jay of the Dead
Horror Movie Podcast.com
In real life, New York City police officer Ralph Sarchie spent most of his career dividing his time between typical police work for the department and his other work as a demonologist who investigated cases of possession and helped perform exorcisms — again, in real life — I’m not making this stuff up. In 2001, he co-wrote a book with Lisa Collier Cool called “Beware the Night” about his experiences with true crimes associated directly with demonic influences. Some of Sarchie’s chronicles described in this book have been adapted to film by horror director Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. And that film, “Deliver Us From Evil,” was released in theaters on July 2, 2014.
The first thing you should know about “Deliver Us From Evil” is that I would classify it as a Crime Thriller that’s interspersed with a couple of effective jump scares but only goes full-bore horror in its climax. Having recently revisited David Fincher’s crime masterpiece, I can confidently say this movie feels very much like a little cousin to “Se7en” (1995). “Deliver Us From Evil” also has a lot in common, structurally, with another recent demonic possession movie, “The Conjuring” (2013).
For the most part, “Deliver Us From Evil” skates an interesting thin line between “the real world as we know it” and the supernatural. In other words, a skeptic could watch most of this film and dismiss its events to just evil people perpetrating evil acts. For instance, there are no “monsters” (in a traditional sense) depicted in this movie. All the movie’s monsters just look like regular people who happen to do monstrous things.
This balance of real life and supernatural actually sets up the strongest aspect of the movie, and that’s the Ralph Sarchie character, who’s played very well by Eric Bana. It’s so refreshing — even exhilarating — to have a protagonist in a horror films who’s a dismissive and irreverent non-believer and a bad-ass. Eric Bana’s character comes across more like an action movie lead than a horror victim, and he’s a blast to watch! Regrettably, as Sarchie’s eyes are opened to the evil and he starts to believe, then he begins to assume the more familiar victim’s demeanor.
For a movie that is mostly set in the Bronx, “Deliver Us From Evil” features a surprising number of animals, including lions, spiders, snakes, bats, a bear and other creatures. The animals add something special. There’s a very memorable crucifix-related scene in this movie that seems familiar to me. I can’t remember where I’ve seen something so similarly ghastly, but I believe I have.
But I’m sorry to report, I have a number of complaints with the film. The first half of the movie is strong: It cuts to the chase and opens with good pacing and intriguing action, but it seems like it perpetually slows down as it gets bogged down in its exposition. So, the film is suspenseful out of the gate, but as it progresses, it loses its steam and even becomes a little tiresome. I think due to its framing as a series of work encounters for a cop, inevitably, this movie is a mystery that turns into a police procedural type of investigation.
And naturally, there’s a family drama side of it, where the wife is unhappy and concerned, and the kid becomes increasingly scared (rightfully so) with daddy being home so little.
I love story myself, but for those who don’t want or need a lot of story elements in their horror movies, this is a fairly talky movie. And it falls into a weak convention that I dislike in horror, where we eventually find “An Expert” who lays out all the lore and lengthy explanations about what’s going on and why. These types of clunky exposition dumps basically turn the lights on in the haunted house, removing the mystery and any scariness that might have existed.
Just to be clear, “Deliver Us From Evil” has a few creepy moments, for sure, but I don’t consider this movie to be scary. Based on its premise and source material, I would think it should be frightening.
And like most horror films, this movie is dimly lit — annoyingly so — to the point that it’s difficult to decipher the action. Even in places that wouldn’t be dark — like inside the police station, for example — it looks like they’re sitting in the dark during a power outage. Having light in your horror movie makes the dark times scarier. Director Scott Derrickson seemed to know this in “Sinister” (2012), which has incredible cinematography. I hope Derrickson will get Chris Norr back again as the D.P. for his next film.
Surprisingly, even though this movie was inspired by actual accounts of this NYPD sergeant, it comes across as more of a very darkly toned crime-cop movie. The possession aspects culminate to a climactic showdown, but most of the movie is a brooding crime drama.
As a believer myself, I’ve spent some time wondering about the accounts of possession found in the Bible. I’ve wondered how many of those accounts were actual demonic possessions or simply someone with very serious mental illness, described in familiar terms of the time. Either way, since those biblical stories took place about 2,000 years ago, they are comfortably distant. But if Ralph Sarchie’s accounts really were what he says they were, then his stories are uncomfortably recent and not mental illness at all…
Jay of the Dead’s Rating and Recommendation:
“Deliver Us From Evil” (2014) = 5.5 out of 10 ( Rental )
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