Deliver Us From Evil was a movie I was dying to see after catching a glimpse of the trailers online. It looked scary in the most gritty, horrifying sort of way. The preview featured a variation of The Grudge girl’s noise (that I still cannot bear to hear) and has scary demon-possessed people. Plus, Eric Bana. What’s not to like?
Unfortunately, a lot.
This was easily the biggest bummer I’ve experienced this year. Even Oculus had more going for it in terms of retaining interest during the film. Though Bana did bring a lot to the table with this role and his work was pretty decent, there were a lot of elements that left me wondering what the hell this movie was trying to be.
I went in expecting a horror film. I won’t lie, I was ready to be scared out of my mind and to have trouble sleeping that night. Unfortunately I was graced with neither of these things; instead, I was fuming by the time we were done.
Eric Bana plays the role of an NYPD officer named Sarchie who experiences hunches about bad things happening as he’s doing rounds with his partner. After a creepy experience in a zoo after hours, Bana is taken on a rollercoaster ride of trying to find some guy possessed by a demon after his tour in Iraq.
The movie spends so much time trying to build relationships between Bana and his partner or the priest that the entire reason I went to see the movie (to be scared) was drowned out by long, boring conversations about past events that had no effect on the film after their initial mention.
Bana apparently has anger issues, but they don’t really translate into past or previous events outside of the story he tells about his anger issues. It’s very confusing and leaves me wondering what exactly we were trying to accomplish; Bana isn’t more relatable because of this and his inner burdens don’t really provide any insight to the viewers as we watch the film.
Moreover, the reasons behind most of the demon’s actions are left completely untouched (the film even mentions that we won’t know the true reason behind primary evil), but it felt like a cheap scapegoat that the filmmakers used so they didn’t have to explain certain events. They were apparently too busy trying to get us to like Bana and feel his feels. I get that the uncertainty of why is supposed to be creepy and unsettling, but I was so distracted by everything else they tried to stuff into this film that it didn't creep me out or unsettle me at all; it left me frustrated.
Without any spoilers, the movie attempts to make clumsy genre shifts that don’t lend any meaning or depth. We start out in the horror branch, which is great—exactly what I expected and desired. There was some… decent humor. It wasn’t as well done as the intermittent snarks in, say, The Avengers, but it did add some flavor to some otherwise boring moments. But then we move into an action sort of sequence, then some self-reflective motivational crap with an ex-cokehead priest and a demonized painter. After the first hour, I was pretty done with the entire thing.
I wouldn’t recommend seeing it in theaters. I’d probably wait for Hulu or Netflix.