Scott Derrickson‘s latest horror film, Deliver Us from Evil, is definitely a step back for the director responsible for the creepy and atmospheric Sinister as well as The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Deliver Us from Evil is a two thirds cop drama and a one third exorcism film that gets by only on its lead performance by Eric Bana. The rest of the film goes to waste as Derrickson’s trademark spooks and scares add up to little in a film that spends too much time jumping around and not enough time adding up to anything. Deliver Us from Evil is a certified dud.
NYPD officer Sarchie (Eric Bana) lives a far from normal life. He investigates creepy and disturbing cases on the daily, while the rest of the world sleeps. His latest series of murders and weird occurrences surround a group of soldiers that discovered something demonic while serving in Iraq, which leads to Sarchie slowly unraveling a mystery involving exorcism, demonic possession and things of a very twisted nature.
Deliver Us from Evil comes from the atmospheric and slow-burning director Scott Derrickson, who has proven his worth with the tense and frightening Sinister. Here, he resorts back to his earlier work, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, while also channeling a very dull and procedural version of Se7en. Derrickson trades in his horror directing talents in exchange for something a little more bizarre and disgruntled.
Deliver Us from Evil feels like a bad music video with too loose of a direction, oftentimes resorting to shocking imagery that doesn’t really add up to anything special. There are countless shots that are seemingly thrown in for the heck of it, while the rest of the film slowly chugs along at a pace that kills. There’s no reason this film is over an hour and a half, yet at two hours Deliver Us from Evil barely becomes a horror film.
The last act reveals a stylish exorcism and one that is actually pretty freaking cool, but means absolutely nothing to the greater good of the film, which isn’t so much an exorcism movie as much as it is a cop investigating random dead end cases that slowly (and I mean slowly) lead up to the exorcism reveal.
Seriously, why is Eric Bana‘s character wasting so much of the film’s running time jumping back and forth to locations that don’t actually serve a purpose? He learns most of the film’s plot through found footage and we as an audience feel very little dread as Bana continues down yet another dark and damp hallway, only to find a rotted corpse.
There’s just no need for half of material that Derrickson pops up onto the screen and that kills the film, especially when it comes to atmosphere, which is what Derrickson is usually all about. Deliver Us from Evil quickly becomes a boring mess of a film that is coherently acted, but poorly edited and directed.
Eric Bana saves the film from feeling too cheap, turning in performance that feels from the heart, if still slightly misguided and confused. You can’t blame Bana for doing the best with what he was given and told to do.
There’s just nothing underneath the film’s flimsy plot, which leads Bana’s character all around a city, looking for something or someone apparently. The film doesn’t really tell you this clearly and instead pops up a few people here and there, hoping one of them sticks long enough for you to remember. Otherwise, the actual point of Deliver Us from Evil becomes very foggy early on and it never really clears up.
Scott Derrickson‘s Deliver Us from Evil is a confusing horror film that spends too much time drifting in an out of its own consciousness. It rarely has any idea what kind of film it wants to be. It eventually decides that it wants to become an exorcism film, but by that point it’s far too late and it becomes clear that Derrickson and his writers had way too many ideas floating around during production and none of them decided on which one they wanted to tackle completely. The film itself is a mesh of many horror elements, but unfortunately none of that adds up for a quality film or an even halfway decent horror film.
Deliver Us from Evil – 6/10