“Deliver Us From Evil” is a story of demonic possession, but this one is a bit different. It’s not told by a psychic or an exorcist. It’s based on the true story of Detective Ralph Sarchie, a hardened detective in the South Bronx who didn’t believe any of this. . . until it happened to him.
“Deliver Us From Evil” opens with Det. Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner Nadler (Mike Houston) joking about what Sarchie calls his hunches, or what Nadler calls his radar. It seems Sarchie has always been able to feel what the outcome of a specific call would be. When a domestic violence call comes across the radio, they decide to investigate.
What they find when they get there is a woman who has been severely beaten by her former Marine husband who begrudgingly lets the cops in, but then gets away from them as they are trying to collar him. Meanwhile, they get a call to the Bronx Zoo.
The zoo has a woman on surveillance video throwing her two-year-old into a ditch. The power went out and she’s disappeared. Sarchie and Nadler are tasked with finding her. They do. She appears drugged and she’s mouthing the words to a Doors song. Sarchie’s professional opinion is that she’s a nut case.
At the station, they meet Father Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez), a Jesuit priest who knows Jane (Olivia Horton), the woman from the zoo. He tip toes around the issue of possession, but when Sarchie figures out what he’s talking about, he chalks up the priest as a nut case, too.
Strange things keep happening and intertwining until Sarchie can no longer write everyone off as a nut case. He ends up with three former Marines, all who fought in Iraq and were dishonorably discharged, plus Jane. And then Sarchie begins to see and hear things nobody else can see or hear.
He searches out Father Mendoza, still not totally believing in demonic possession or the supernatural path this case seems to be taking. You get the feeling that right up until the dramatic ending, Sarchie’s still not entirely sure that he can believe what he’s seeing.
The film builds to a very dramatic conclusion with a full-blown exorcism. If you don’t believe, you may be laughing at this point. If you do believe, you’ll be hanging onto the arm rests.
So is it really real? Did this actually happen? That’s for you to decide. In my case, I was encouraged to see the film by my sister, who has worked with Ralph Sarchie. The film is supposed to be fairly true to the story, but things are always added and subtracted by Hollywood for entertainment value. From what I know of this subject, I thought it was a fairly accurate retelling. For me, it was the acting of the two leads, Eric Bana and Édgar Ramírez, that really brought it home and made this story believable.
“Deliver Us From Evil” is based on “Beware the Night,” a book by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool. It was directed by Scott Derrickson, who also wrote the screenplay, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. This is the same team who created “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”
The film stars Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn and Mike Houston. It is rated R for horror, graphic violence and language. It is definitely NOT for children, even teens, and not for anyone who scares easily. The film’s running time is one hour and 58 minutes.