Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review of DELIVER US FROM EVIL: "Se7en" Meets "The Exorcist"

July 3, 2014

In a seedy New York apartment, a family is terrorized by strange noises from their basement. In the Bronx Zoo, a woman throws her baby into the lions enclosure.  Ralph Sarchie is the policeman who was investigating this series of peculiar phenomena. A renegade priest involved with one of the victims, Fr. Mendoza, suggests that these events show signs of "primary evil," but Sarchie cannot accept this supernatural explanation. One day, Sarchie's own wife and daughter mysteriously disappear. Despite his resistance, he had to join forces with the priest in order to try and exorcise the demon before it is too late to save his family.

The cool and gritty cop Sarchie is played very well by Eric Bana. You sense his inner conflicts as he struggles to balance his professional life with his own domestic problems. It is very good to see Bana again in a meaty role of an ex-Catholic cop with family issues, a "radar" for the bizarre and a violent past. I have not seen him in a remarkable lead performance since his excellent turns in "Troy" and "Munich".

The acting of the rest of the cast is generally solid. Edgar Ramirez was mostly effective as the thoroughly hip Fr. Ramirez, and he has good chemistry with Bana. Joel McHale spins some welcome humor as he plays Sarchie's wise-cracking partner Butler. Sean Harris, who plays the sinister-looking house painter Santino involved in these strange events, was aided by gruesome prosthetics in his performance. Olivia Munn does well in her dramatic scenes as Sarchie's neglected wife. Lulu Wilson, the child actress who played their daughter Christina, can get annoying.

The scares here were mainly because of the disturbing and gory images of death it shows in many scenes. There are some effective scares which will make you jump from your seat, particularly with animals. The film approaches two hours in length and does lose some steam in the middle somewhat. There are even instances during the climactic battle itself that went on a bit too long, with Eric Bana only on the sidelines.

Director and co-writer Scott Derrickson had been more successful with his previous horror films like "Sinister" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose". Because "Deliver" uses a lot of disgusting imagery, I can feel a heavy influence of the 1995 David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt of similar style, "Se7en". The soundtrack uses a lot of classic rock riffs to create an eerie atmosphere, making me recall the 1998 Gregory Hoblit film "Fallen" with Denzel Washington. Overall though, despite its meandering storytelling, I still believe "Deliver Us From Evil" is a good enough horror thriller in its own right. 6/10.

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