Deliver Us From Evil

Directed By: Scott Derrickson

Starring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, and Joel McHale

"Invocamus Vi Ingredi Ab Inferi

Hollywood hasn't figured out what to do after the success of the horror genre in 2013.  In a reactionary move to box office gold, they're mostly releasing halfway decent movies from a singular niche genre, possession films.  Just look at the slew of flicks we've had featuring demons trying to make their way into the world.  They include the likes of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Devil's Due, and The Quiet Ones.  Well, this weekend's Deliver Us From Evil joins their ranks if the Latin quote above means anything.  We've got another demon taking advantage of a poor soul and trying to enter our world.

Mick Santino (Sean Harris) leads a troop of marines into an underground cave in Iraq.  Something mysterious happens down there, and none of his men come out the same.  Sometime later, NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner Butler (Joel McHale) are investigating strange disturbances in New York.  Thanks to what Butler and their fellow cops have come to call Sarchie's "radar", this duo encounters some of the freakiest crimes in the city.  Tonight, they're investigating a mother at a zoo who mysteriously throws her son into a ravine, nearly killing the boy.  This case puts them straight on a path to chasing down Santino and finding out what really happened in Iraq.  It also puts Sarchie on a path to meeting specialist priest Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez), a man of the cloth who is quite familiar with the supernatural.  As Sarchie chases down this evil, he fails to realize that his work will take a toll on his wife Jen (Olivia Munn) and their young daughter.

Of the evil demons we've seen on the big screen this year trying to open spiritual doors and enter our world, Jungler may be the most sinister.  Primarily, this is because Santino's character is more or less an embodiment of Jungler for the vast majority of the film.  Seeing Sean Harris (The Borgias) in some creepy camouflage makeup and a black hoodie throughout the film only amplifies this.  With this in mind, Deliver Us From Evil may just be the best of the lackluster possession movies of 2014.  Let me be clear.  I'm not saying this is a great film.  With director Scott Derrickson pulling all the typical strings of a horror movie and putting together a rather routine supernatural flick, Deliver Us From Evil breaks no records.  It's just the best of some barely decent horror movies this year.

I have to give Derrickson credit for creating a spooky ambiance filled with suspicious-looking animals and creepy music.  However, it's not his direction that makes the film work.  It's his talented cast.  They each bring something to the table.  As our main character Ralph Sarchie, we have Eric Bana.  Delivering a dark, conflicted performance, Bana forcefully convinces us of the evil to which he bears witness on a nightly basis.  As his partner Butler, Joel McHale provides plenty of comic relief in what's otherwise an extremely bleak film.  As his specialist priest Mendoza, Édgar Ramírez deftly lends moral support to our main character who is in desperate need of it.  Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Sean Harris's strong performance.  He has a gift for playing dark characters like Santino and personifies the evil from which Sarchie and Mendoza try to deliver us (pun intended).

Deliver Us From Evil isn't the world's greatest horror movie, but it's solidly entertaining.  Scott Derrickson's latest possession flick gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.