Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Film Review: Deliver Us from Evil

Copyright: Screen Gems
Gritty streets of New York are filled with all kinds of dangerous people and random violence, but one night, two detectives encounter a very strange man, back from a tour of duty in Iraq. After they confront him about domestic violence, a fight ensues. The same evening, the duo learns that a woman has tried to throw her son to the lions in a zoo.

As they investigate, so does the story of Detective Ralph Sarchie begin to unravel, while the signs lead to a presence that might not be human. He meets a priest who claims the same thing, but Sarchie struggles with the idea as he investigates the rain soaked, dark corners of New York.

With this film, Scott Derrickson continues his streak of movies that don’t hit the mark. As a horror, Deliver Us from Evil meanders all over the place for 2014 (a year with many great horrors like Annabelle), presenting excellent segments (the own toy is the scariest thing in the film), but also including ridicules elements (two knives vs. a hatchet fight) that completely destroy the atmosphere he tries to build.

There are also strange editing mistakes (Sarchie bandage on his arm and generally, the way it continues to receive damage for no reason), which should have been caught in the editing room, having in mind that this is a movie with a substantial budget. None of these are a deal breaker, but they aren’t invisible either.

In its positive moments, the film has a feel similar to movies like Fallen or Constantine, were a very urban setting is the place where the ancient evil forces choose to make their stand. But these are underdeveloped and quickly broken by a winding pace. A fantastic acting cast might have made a difference when it comes to atmosphere, but the only one in the film who really shines is Sean Harris, especially in the ending showdown.

I had a really high expectation from this film, but in the end, the suit that it makes for it simply doesn’t suit it. The uncomfort isn’t enormous, but the pants are a little short while the sleeves are a little long (metaphorically speaking, the film didn’t really make a suit for itself; movies don’t wear suits, or make them). This makes it a bit off, and the feeling continues in different intensities. Watch Deliver Us from Evil if you’re OK with this kind of deal, but more importantly, if you’re looking more for a thriller than a horror.

But, there is one other thing I really had a problem with.

Spoiler Alert

(I discuss the end of the film, so avert your eyes if you want to see it)

The ending of the film presents a very flat, melodramatic and somewhat disturbing (for me at least) message, all at the same time. Sarchie manages to free the haunted person, and the demon leaves (I presume). He finds his wife and kid alive and well, and hugs them in slow motion like in some bad advertisement for life insurance and/or prostate medicine. Then, it is disclosed that he stopped being a cop and started working with priest Mendoza full time, I’m guessing while they both drink heavily and expel demons.

The very end, where the family christens their newborn, presented to me the notion of Sarchie who fully comes back to his faith and embraces the Catholicism as the only real shield of humanity against S&M demons. I found that pretty awful on many levels, but mostly because Sarchie character development turned him back into that boy he was before he saved his family from the intruder when he was twelve. In other words, he became a guy who believes that the flying spaghetti monster will make everything all right.

The film might be based on the real events, but still, this transformation makes a film into a religious advert for the Slipknot generation which it totally didn’t need to become. In this I feel an unmistakable Jerry Bruckheimer (who produced the film) presence that wanted to cradle to the religious portion of the audience.

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