Possession movies are ten a penny these days, with Hollywood churning out exorcism films like pasta. Every so often, one comes along that doesn’t stick to the tried and tested routines and resultantly appears like a fresh piece of fruit in a bowl of decay.
Deliver Us From Evil is based on a supposedly true story that was immortalised in a book written by the main character in the film, Ralph Sarchie. Now retired, the ex-NYPD cop experienced some strange occurrences during one particular case, which the film centres upon.
A few child deaths pique his professional interest, including a child thrown into a pit surrounding a lion’s den at the Bronx zoo by his own mother. Among other individuals, the mother seems mentally unstable and is institutionalised. At the same time, Sarchie and his partner are called out to a report of domestic violence, where the perpetrator is taken into custody and also doesn’t seem to be entirely all there. Events start to link together and it becomes clear to Sarchie that these are not your run of the mill cases, but part of something much bigger and much scarier that threatens the safety of his own family.
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, what’s nice about this film is that it doesn’t over reach itself and try and take it to the next level, instead rooting itself securely in realism. Obviously there are going to have been some poetic licence moments incorporated, but overall, it keeps its feet firmly on the ground.
As Sarchie, Bana seems a little miscast in some scenes, but great in others. Some of the events conjure up a reminiscence of 1989’s The First Power, whilst there are a couple of set-ups that recall moments of Event Horizon, at least on the make-up effects.
If the story is true, then it raises all kinds of unanswerable questions about humanity and what other entities may be trying to enter our plain of existence. If it’s not, then at least we are given a possession film that ticks the right boxes whilst managing to exude a slow burning feeling that stirs just below your skin.
Not great, but creepy enough to be effective.
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn
Release date: 5 January 2015
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