John’s Horror Corner: Deliver Us From Evil (2014), and deliver ME from this uninteresting, boring possession movie.
MY CALL: I wasn’t sold, scared, or really even interested in this possession film whose scenes lacked any sense of synthesis and whose story never maturely developed. MOVIES LIKE Deliver Us From Evil: A mainstream crime-mystery-horror that I loved was Fallen (1998), another meta-genre possession movie with a great cast and excellent execution. BETTER POSSESSION MOVIES: The Unborn (2009), The Last Exorcism (2010), The Quiet Ones (2014)…and even The Possession (2012), which I described as the “diet coke of possession movies,” was better than this.
New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana; Deadfall, Hanna) has recently started getting some strange cases. A woman in a drug-induced manic craze, a call of “strange sounds” coming from the basement in a “possessed” house, a crucified cat, some self-mutilated crazies in animal enclosures at the zoo…but that’s New York, right? As Sarchie investigates further, these strange incidents appear to be darkly connected.
You are charged with one count of trespassing in the lion’s enclosure and eight counts of being creepy.
During his investigations Sarchie is approached by a drinking, smoking, edgy Jesuit priest named Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez; Wrath of the Titans, Zero Dark Thirty) who offers his help, but is met only with skepticism. No clue why. I often solicit the advice of leather jacket-wearing Jesuit priests who wander into my place of work unannounced and offer assistance. There’s nothing weird about that.
As we slowly accumulate clues Sarchie starts hearing things, seeing things, weird things are happening in his home, and everything gets really… “satanic.” Scratching sounds abound, lights burn out as if extinguished by evil, chiseled bloody fingernails on perps, insane Latin babble, and dark etchings on walls set an abyssal tone and it is effective for the most part. Realizing the darkness that has befallen him, Sarchie chooses to work with Mendoza, who is (of course!) well-studied in demonology and exorcism.
Not really sure where the cat fits in to all this, but whatever.
I really like writer/director Scott Derrickson’s (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) past work and I admire his ability to recruit mainstream actors into his horror casts (e.g., Olivia Munn of Magic Mike, The Newsroom playing Sarchie’s wife and Joel McHale of Community). Olivia Munn handles her very minor role well and Joel McHale brings some often out of place yet totally welcome humor.
But despite the cast and all this cool “evil satany” stuff I just never found myself caring about this movie…like, at all. There was just something–something big–about the whole story, the characters and composition that didn’t work for me. I wasn’t sold or scared and, not to sound mean but, I was never really even interested. I mean, some individual scenes were sort of working for me. They just didn’t have anything close to the kind of synthesis I needed to suspend my belief and immerse myself in the movie.
Ultimately, I found this film boring. Even during the exorcism scene, which I’m sure was meant to be intense and climactic, I was legitimately bored and waiting for the movie to end.
I won’t say don’t see this movie. A lot of Amazon reviewers loved it. I’m just clearly not one of them. And on a totally random note, this movie made me hate Jim Morrison. Watch it and you’ll learn why.