- by Jeff Beck
Deliver Us from Evil: A Mess of Horror Cliches (Blu-ray)
Writer/director Scott Derrickson’s career started off with something of a whimper. His first feature as a director was merely a direct-to-video entry in the “Hellraiser” franchise, which was followed by two more duds: “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” a bland take on your standard possession film, and the completely pointless remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” However, after these he delivered the intriguing horror tale “Sinister,” which, while not a particularly good film, had a few good things about it, including a palpable sense of dread and heavy mood and atmosphere.
His latest effort, “Deliver Us from Evil,” is a kind of mixture of two of his previous films, combining to tell the tale of NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), who has to deal with terrible crimes every day. He begins to notice that certain calls of his, including a man beating his wife and a woman who tries to kill her child at a zoo, are connected, possibly by supernatural forces that he can’t begin to explain. This prompts him to seek out the help of a priest, Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), who has been investigating these strange occurrences for some time. Together they must fight against the forces of evil in hopes of saving not only those who have been possessed, but also Sarchie’s own family, who become a prime target.
There are films that are pretty slow with their pacing, and then there are films that you need to call in a crash cart for because they don’t seem to be moving at all. However, terrible pacing is just the beginning of the film’s problems. After having fashioned a rather interesting demon-related story in “Sinister,” Derrickson has taken a giant step backwards and compiled a story that is built entirely on clichés, one that doesn’t contain anything that is the least bit original. Imagine a film like that stretched out to death at two hours, the runtime being another one of its major issues, and you can begin to see how flat and unengaging a film like this would be.
To make matters worse, it culminates in an exorcism, which seems to be the new go-to cliché for films like this. “Deliver Us from Evil” simply has nothing to offer fans of horror except boredom and lots of eye-rolling. Hopefully Derrickson won’t be too deterred by this fiasco. He’s shown that he has something to offer to the horror genre, but he’s not going to be able to show it unless he goes back to more original material (not that “Sinister” was entirely original, but it was certainly closer than this). Like everyone else, we can only hope that he’ll forget this ever happened and move on.
“Deliver Us from Evil” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of somewhat low quality. The picture is rather fuzzy throughout, particularly in the dark scenes, which comprise a vast majority of the film. It’s still watchable, but there was certainly room for improvement. On the other hand, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is just fine, presenting dialogue, score, and jump scares at perfect levels. Overall, while the video leaves a little to be desired, at least you’ll be able to hear everything in great quality.
Commentary with Writer/Director Scott Derrickson: An interesting commentary that has Derrickson giving you a lot of background on the project. Worth a listen.
Illuminating Evil: The Making of Deliver Us from Evil: An informative behind the scenes look at the making of the film that includes interviews with the cast and crew.
Deliver Us from Demons, The Two Sergeants, and The Demon Detective: A series of featurettes that explore topics including the demon makeup, how Bana got into character, and the real-life
Ralph Sarchie. All three are semi-interesting and worth a quick look.
Scott Derrickson’s “Deliver Us from Evil” suffers from an immense lack of originality, a bloated runtime of two hours, and pacing that makes a snail look fast. It’s a shame too because it’s an idea that he had apparently been kicking around for about a decade, only to have it turn into a complete mess when it finally got made. He may have been fascinated with the real Ralph Sarchie’s work, but unfortunately he let that fascination blind him to the fact that there wasn’t really much of a story there to tell. Whatever Derrickson ends up moving on to after this, it certainly can’t be much worse.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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