Monday, 16 February 2015

MOVIE: Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

US 2014, 118m, Cert 15 (UK)
Screen Gems/Jerry Bruckheimer Films

DVD/Blu-Ray: Sony (UK)

New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is a lapsed Catholic, forced to confront his issues with his faith as he investigates a series of horrific crimes, which appear to be linked to three soldiers who served in Iraq. All may be the victims of demonic possession, and a renegade priest (Edgar Ramirez) eventually convinces Sarchie that he may need some divine intervention to solve the cases, and protect his family from dark forces...

Firstly, I know Scott Derrickson is capable of making a half-decent horror flick. I enjoyed his rethink of The Day The Earth Stood Still, and also admired Sinister which, despite its stupid-on-the-surface plot managed to transcend its material to become an effectively creepy little chiller.

So, here I am feeling somewhat nonplussed by his recent effort, Deliver Us From Evil, and yet I've been struggling to put my finger on what exactly is wrong with it.

It's possibly several things which contribute to its failure to engage as it should. Like Hammer's misfire The Quiet Ones, it all looks fine on paper, and yet there is a niggling feeling that this has all been done before, and done better. It also shares that film's penchant for cranking the volume up to 11 in a laboured attempt at generating shock-scares which you will already have anticipated. Still, this being a Jerry Bruckheimer production, a pummelling of the eardrums is par for the course. Which brings me on to the musical soundtrack...

Whilst I would normally welcome hearing The Doors in any context, the heavy use of their music here seems hamfisted at best, and displays a complete misunderstanding of what made them tick, twisting their words to suit whatever point it is the film tries to make. Fans of the band will cringe and giggle in equal measure, particularly when a possessed soul states "the ceremony is about to begin" as an exorcism gets underway. Maybe Jim Morrison would have been amused...

Amidst the confused and baffling tale unravelling, not to mention some questionable rhetoric about treating mental illness as a spiritual rather than medical condition, in its better moments the film does have the entertainment value of resembling a particularly outlandish episode of CSI. On that level, Deliver Us From Evil is perhaps worth an hour of your time (if it's raining), but unfortunately runs for twice that length. Nice surround mix, though.


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