Eric Bana adds “horror film” to his resume and comes out smiling.
“Deliver Us from Evil” delivers scares, demonic possessions, basements of doom and backwards baseball caps. Yes, it’s a horror film.
Directed by Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), no stranger to unspeakable acts of violence in his daily patrol, is forced to question his own beliefs when residents start exhibiting demonic like behaviour. Let’s just say no cats, wives or children are safe. Particularly the cats. Sorry cat lovers. Discovering the crimes are occult related, he seeks help from an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez) to aid him in the investigation. The aforementioned backwards baseball cap wearing Butler (Joel McHale), Sarchie’s police partner, is sadly less helpful. But very good with knives. So there’s that.
Based on the real life stories from Sarchie’s time in the NYPD, this film is an unusual mix of cop procedural and the supernatural…and The Doors. While the audience knows way ahead of time that this is no everyday case, Bana’s grounded presence throughout the film is key to following Sarchie on his journey as he must confront demons from his own past. And poor some holy water on them. Or something. Exorcisms are complicated.
While there is nothing new to the formula besides the police perspective, this film succeeds in that it is genuinely scary. Filmed on location in the Bronx, largely at night time, the authenticity and quality of the production provides an energy to the film that keeps your toes curled. With less impressive performances this could have easily gone into camp territory, but everyone brings an intensity to their roles that stops any hint of a small or wink coming through. Sean Harris (“Prometheus”) as antagonist Santino in particular manages to bite his own leg and still seem scarier than Darth Vader (prequel version).
A must see for all horror fans. For everyone else, come for Eric Bana, stay for the exorcism. And go home pretending like it was just a film, and not based on real stories…