As a veteran of the South Bronx’s 46th Precinct, Detective Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) has seen his share of strange and horrific crimes. When a woman hurls her baby into the pit of a lion at the local zoo, Sarchie links her to three soldiers who returned from Iraq and teams up with a renegade priest to investigate.
Based on a True Story
If the “inspired by the actual accounts of a cop-turned-demonologist” tagline for Deliver Us from Evil is to be taken at all seriously, it seems to stretch credulity about as far as Lance Armstrong’s steroid use. Yet director Scott Derrickson, whose Sinister was an expertly calibrated exercise in slow, steady dread, has produced another solid horror movie that raises questions about faith and evil at the same time as it thrills.
Eric Bana is great as gruff police officer Sarchie, who investigates first a spousal abuse case and then a bizarre report of a woman trying to throw her baby into a ravine at the zoo. His search for answers brings him into contact with Jesuit priest Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), who tells the cop that he’s seen some truly horrific things, but that the real evil comes from elsewhere and will only be vanquished if a specific sacrifice is made.
Most films about demonic possession and hauntings take a forensic approach, but this movie, co-written by Paul Harris Boardman, a regular writing partner for Derrickson, goes for a more dramatic and spiritual slant. Unfortunately, it never quite strikes the right balance between wry self-awareness and grim sincerity.
Director: Scott Derrickson
While it’s far from a perfect merger of police procedural and supernatural horror, Derrickson does a good job of constructing long stretches of tension that don’t rely on gimmicks or jump cuts. His direction is impressive considering this is his first time directing a full-length horror movie.
The film opens with three Iraq War veterans encountering a mysterious chamber in an underground cave. Back in New York City, the police department is investigating a series of horrific and seemingly senseless crimes with an odd connection: The victims babble song lyrics that resemble those of Jim Morrison’s band, The Doors.
As he investigates, South Bronx cop Ralph Sarchie (a stolidly intense Eric Bana) discovers that the same sinister symbols are appearing at each crime scene. He follows a trail that leads him to a mysterious priest, Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) and a disturbed woman who tried to kill her child at the local zoo. From there, things start to get truly weird and Sarchie finds himself in a race against time to save his own family from evil spirits.
Starring: Eric Bana
Most occult thrillers take an allegorical approach toward evil, but writer-director Scott Derrickson and his co-writer Paul Harris Boardman have a different agenda with this true story. Inspired by the memoirs of ex-NYPD officer Ralph Sarchie, this mashup of possession and police procedural takes its case literally.
Sarchie, played by a stolidly intense Eric Bana, was a real cop who began investigating what appeared to be crimes of inhuman evil and found them tied to demonology, leading him to study and assist with exorcisms. The movie pairs him with a street-smart priest, portrayed by Edgar Ramirez.
While Deliver Us From Evil doesn’t reach the heights of Derrickson’s previous work — his 2012 Sinister — it’s still an entertaining fright flick. And the cast is solid. But it isn’t as sharply written as it could have been, and the vumoo free movies get bogged down by a few too many rainy sequences and endless references to Jim Morrison.
Synopsis: A lapsed Catholic police officer with a sixth sense for crime begins investigating a series of demonic possessions.
After a prologue that echoes The Hurt Locker and The Exorcist, Deliver Us From Evil focuses on a pair of NYPD partners investigating a series of grisly crimes that seem to be linked by an inexplicable supernatural force. Cop Sarchie (Eric Bana) partners with Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), a Jesuit priest and exorcist. He’s a man who believes that true evil does exist and that his religion has the power to combat it.
While Christian metaphysics are always implied in horror movies, Deliver Us From Evil puts those ideas front and center. It juggles the genres of police procedural and supernatural horror and manages to pull it off fairly well, even if it does occasionally descend into clichés.
The movie trots out possessed playthings, a zoo full of monsters, a shoutalong exorcism, Satanic graffiti and a crucified cat. It also throws in a few shock cuts, but not enough to make the film feel fresh or energetic.