run time: 118 mins
considered: Crime, Horror, Thriller
director: Scott Derrickson
starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Chris Coy, Dorian Missick, Sean Harris, Joel McHale, Mike Houston, Lulu Wilson, Olivia Horton, Scott Johnsen, Daniel Sauli, Antoinette LaVecchia, Aidan Gemme, Jenna Gavigan
movie summary: New York City is the city most people around the world associate with the American Dream, but just like every major city there are dark areas. Neighbourhoods you don’t want to get lost in, neighbourhoods you won’t survive in, and neighbourhoods where bad stuff happens to good people all the time. Deliver Us From Evil follows one of NYPD’s leading detectives Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner Butler (Joel McHale). On any given night shift Sarchie and Butler will respond to domestic disputes, murders, and any other crazy calls that happen in the boroughs of the Big Apple.
One night the pair respond to a call at the zoo where a psychotic woman named Jane (Olivia Horton) has thrown her baby boy into the lion’s den. When they get a minute to question her she is just sitting impatiently on the park bench craving her nails into the wood mumbling something about an open door. Sarchie thinks she’s on heavy drugs and just quoting a song from the rock group The Doors. After realizing there is a mysterious looking guy painting the walls in the lion pit, they try to question him before he runs off to let the lions out of their cages nearly killing Sarchie in the process. Back at the station Jane is put into protective custody while she waits for an escort to the mental hospital, Sarchie and Butler put in a request for the zoo’s security footage when a priest by the name of Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) approaches them and asks to help out with the case. Sarchie shrugs off Mendoza because he doesn’t believe in God and that when people do bad things it is not the work of the devil, it’s just human nature.
When Ralph returns home every morning he tries to keep his personal and work life separate but this case of the women trying to kill her kid hits close to home for him. His wife Jen (Olivia Munn) is a very religious person who spends the majority of her time raising their daughter when Ralph is always busy at the station. There is a lot of tension in their relationship but things take a turn when she tells him she’s pregnant with their second child. That night at work Ralph responds to call where a guy named Griggs (Daniel Sauli) has violently beaten his wife. When they try to arrest him only he stabs Ralph and gets away. After going through some research at the station Ralph finds out he is connected to the lady who tried to kill her son at the zoo. Later in the shift his partners get a call about a weird noise in a basement so Ralph offers to take the case because he has a bad feeling about it. Ralph and Butler go to a house where they find a dead body stuffed in a cabinet. The owners tell him that they hired painters and that he was one of them.
The duo research the paining company to find out that it is owned by a guy named Santino (Sean Harris) who is connected to Jane, Griggs, and now this dead guy. It appears he was a leader of a military platoon that experienced some rough things over in Iraq. Mendoza takes Ralph to see Jane at the hospital in an attempt to get some answers. She doesn’t talk much and whenever she does it doesn’t make sense so the pair leave and go get a drink because Mendoza wants to talk. At the bar Mendoza explains how Santino may be possessed and that he took control of Griggs and Jane and forced them to do the dirty work of the Devil. Ralph explains he grew up Catholic but gave up on religion when he was a teenager, he firmly believes none of these crimes are the work of the Devil and that these people are simply crazy. Mendoza explains why Ralph feels drawn to these type of cases, that he has been chosen to handle these types of situations. Things will only continue to get tougher until he confesses his problems and deals with everything he has locked up inside.
Ralph returns home and is so focused on his work in regards to how this may be religiously connected, that he snaps on his daughter and wife before realizing his attitude change. Jen pleads for him to open up and talk about stuff but he refuses and storms off to work. Butler has tracked down Santino’s address so Ralph and Mendoza meet him there to perform a stake out until he comes home. As the rain pours down Santino finally comes home so Ralph and Butler run in after him, they break the door down of his apartment only to find out he’s not there. He’s escaped into the basement where Mendoza notices something is up when the windows begin to break across the building. He gets out of the car and enters the building to help Ralph and Butler who have their hands full with Santino and Griggs. Things only get worse when Mendoza realizes that these two guys are possessed and he must act quickly to save his friends.
my thoughts: It pains me to say I was extremely ticked off that another horror movie was turned into an exorcism movie! What ever happened to good old fashion horror movies, the ones with a serial killer who stalked his prey and then scares the crap out of the audience with his creepiness and brutal killings? Why did The Conjuring, billed as a paranormal activity kind of movie, have to turn into an exorcism movie much like Deliver Us From Evil?? Are there that many exorcism stories out there today? Is there really that much evil out there that every year Hollywood takes these stories and rolls them out in the theatres an attempt to scare people into going to church? Also if that’s the case why do they always present us with characters who don’t believe in God only to have them reevaluate themselves half way through the movie and realize they were wrong and turn to God when everything turns out worse than they thought? Deliver Us From Evil had potential to be a good scary story about the crazy stuff humans do to one another in dark places, but instead just turned into the typical good vs. evil film which kinda disappointed.
I must say that Eric Bana is a solid actor…in a supporting role not as a lead. He is always brilliant in military movies like Black Hawk Down and Lone Survivor while failing as a lead guy in Closed Circuit and Hanna. This horror movie (based on true events) may have been a chance for him to break free from those dreadful problems and make a better name for himself. He does a good job as Ralph Sarchie even though going into this movie you already how his character is going to respond to the situations he finds himself in. Sarchie is just a typical guy that anyone really could have played and would have been able to nail without any real complications. He doesn’t do anything special or exciting to warrant us praising his role in this movie. Joel McHale on the other hand (a guy I really dislike) is one of the best characters of the whole film. He is a NYPD detective who is a Red Sox fan, even if you’re not from New York or even like baseball you just know that’s wrong. McHale is your typical funny sidekick who is there to bring some laughs to an otherwise very serious and depressing religious story. They witness some nasty things together but someone is always needed to keep the attitude light. I actually didn’t mind him in this role, which is a first for me. Edgar Ramirez is the priest who has witnessed it all, he has dealt with his own personal demons which means he offers a unique prospective to the case. When he meets with Sarchie he tries his best to convince him of what they are dealing with but just needs to wait for the right moment for all hell to break loose and Sarchie will see it for himself. Once again I feel his character is just so plain that anyone with a spanish last name could have filled his shoes and the story wouldn’t have suffered.
my final thoughts: Deliver Us From Evil offered up a unique horror movie storyline that in end proved to be just like the others out there. It is however a good thriller that builds up the anticipation of catching the bad guys because no one knows who or what they are. This movie is not worth the full price of admission, even for your horror lovers out there, but something that would be viewed on cheap days or Netflix.
my star rating: 4 out 10
imdb.com: 6.5 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 30% out 100%
rogerbert.com: 1 out 4