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.
Scott Dickerson’s ADHD style of filmmaking feels at home in the atmospheric universe he’s created on the streets of the Bronx. I read no reviews before I went in, and I knew it would most likely be a mixed bag at best.
Eric Bana is strong in the role of Ralph Sarchie, a New York Special Ops Detective, who’s chasing more than bad guys. Sarchie stumbles onto a series of crimes that trace a supernatural origin back to the caves of Iraq. Relentlessly aggressive, Sarchie turns away from any distractions, including his wife (Olivia Munn) and daughter, and digs both feet into the case. Paired with Bana is the awesome Joel McHale (The Soup, Community), a guy I love more than I can explain. Unfortunately, McHale’s portrayal of Sarchie’s hard and irreverent partner, Butler, was so forced, so terribly cast, that it ruined the character for me. Butler quips when he’s supposed to, busts out his hand-t o-hand knife-fighting skills as needed, and generally sinks into one-dimensional purgatory with each new scene. McHale is a very engaging actor; it’s too bad his charm is wasted.
The story is nothing new, but cinematographer, Scott Kevan, transforms the streets of New York into a possessed wasteland, using creative ways to present the manifestation of such extreme evil. The film is much more graphic than I imagined, and that helps add a layer of teeth-gritting tension at times. The story eventually bottoms out along the terribly long 118 minute run-time, and there’s no going back. I realize this is a film about primary evil and all, but the possessed or influenced characters are so ham-fisted and over-the-top, that they come off both comical and plain irritating. The film had a serious one-step-forward-two-steps-back way of storytelling. For every genuinely creepy measure, the viewer is forced to endure twice as much extraneous bullshit. I was checking my phone every five minutes as the climax shambled towards the end.
Sarchie meets a special priest, versed in the ways of primary evil and old school exorcism. Father Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez), stole the film, adding one refreshing element to a doomed story. Even with Mendoza in full exorcism mode, Deliver Us from Evil, delivered itself straight to the not-even-worth-the-Redbox category. It’s been months since horror fans saw a decent theatrical offering, and this does nothing but frustrate an already annoyed legion of horror fans. Deliver Us from Evil is cements a mediocre idea into a mediocre film. Unless you’re obsessed with Joeh McHale and one-liners, spend your time on something better.