It's a big holiday week, no matter if you just had your day off or if it is coming up any day now and as always it makes for an interesting week at the movies as offerings are opening up, not only today but on Friday the 4th as well. Open everywhere, today, "Deliver Us From Evil" is that rare blend of movies that manages to walk the line between some very distinct genres and have a crystal clear sense of the movie that it is trying to be.
It's just another day on the job seeing the worst of the worst that humanity has to offer for New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), however when he begins to investigate a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes, he joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramírez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city.
"Deliver Us From Evil" is ultimately a solid piece of entertainment that sticks to what it knows and what it is trying to do for some fairly positive results and it works as a fun piece of popcorn cinema that gets just scary enough to make sure we all have a good time with it.
In his follow up to his chilling hit "Sinister", co-writer/director Scott Derrickson straddles the line between a straight up cop movie and a super natural thriller with a certain amount of ease and aplomb from beginning to end. Shooting primarily at night in the dirty streets of New York City, Derrickson gives it an otherworldly feel from minute one as we see these characters who have to deal with evil that we can barely dream about on a daily basis. Inspired by the book "Beware The Night" by Ralph Sarchie, the material feels grounded in a certain sense of reality even acknowledging how ridiculous some of these stories can be. While it certain leans on the paranormal elements and moments of demonic possession, but it is equally about dealing with what people believe and how it can manifest itself. The narrative is solid and doesn't go in for anything overly incredible as the ensemble cast brings it home.
Despite his thick Brooklyn accent that was bordering on distracting, Eric Bana can still carry a movie and as the no nonsense cop Ralph Sarchie who is pushed to the brink with some of the horrible things that he sees, it all works quite well. Bana is smart enough to play it with a certain level of sarcasm and skepticism, never quite embracing what is happening around him until he has absolutely no choice. Edgar Ramirez plays the unconventional partner and priest quite well as both these men learn that they are investigating the same thing. Joel McHale plays Bana's smart aleck, adrenaline junkie police partner and it works pretty well as he adds some much needed comic relief and tension breakers to those moments that desperately needed them. Sadly Olivia Munn is more or less wasted as Bana's wife but the great Sean Harris makes up for it in spades as the possessed Santino who is wreaking havoc across the city as things are getting stranger and stranger. He plays it to the absolute hilt with great results particularly towards the film's big conclusion.
I'll admit that there a couple of sequences that get a little more Hollywoodized then they perhaps need to be, and with Jerry Bruckheimer that is probably pretty hard to avoid, but it doesn't take away from the fact that "Deliver Us From Evil" just works. It's got enough scares for the horror crowd to keep them happy, it plays great as a straight crime procedural and the times during the movie that you'll laugh are by design. It's nothing flashy, but it doesn't have to be to be quality entertainment.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Deliver Us From Evil" is now playing at theatres everywhere, please check with local listings for show times.