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Intense but unfocused horror in 'Deliver Us From Evil'

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Deliver Us From Evil

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Writer-director Scott Derrickson attempts to combine the disturbingly frightening supernatural crime-thriller and honey-I-think-we need-a-priest elements of his previous films "Sinister" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" in his latest horror piece "Deliver Us From Evil." The result is a very intense and loud though less than curious jumble of a story. It's also easy to see that it was largely adapted from a book as there is simply too much squeezed into it. Some of it works, some of it doesn't and its lack of focus fails to frighten and makes you work to keep up.

Real-life retired NYPD officer Ralph Sarchie wrote a 2001 book titled "Beware the Night" which tells of a particularly ugly case of demonic possession he encountered on the job in the Bronx. The movie updates the story opening with a been there, seen that prologue in 2010 Iraq showing three soldiers finding something bad in a cave. We then jump to 2013 New York where we meet Sarchie (Eric Bana) and follow him through several vague police incidents before reconnecting with our Iraq vets and some violence and weirdness associated with them.

There's also a hard drinking, chain smoking and very rough around the edges priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) who shows up. Sarchie tiredly dismisses him before realizing he desperately needs his help. In addition, we get a lot of pointless cop buddy interaction with his partner (an energetic Joel McHale from "The Soup") and several hackneyed scenes with Sarchie's wife (Olivia Munn) that bring things to a halt. One scene with his daughter's stuffed toy at bedtime is initially creepy but it was revealed in the trailer and disappointing fizzles without purpose.

Bana's performance is mostly one note as a job weary cop and lapsed faith Catholic made dead inside from the daily pain and suffering he's also addicted to. Munn is relegated to yet another victim wife role with nothing to do but complain that he's never there. Ramirez offers some interest but suffers from the unavoidable recollection of Jason Miller's classic troubled, smoking and drinking priest Father Karras in "The Exorcist."

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