Reel Reviews: Evil is hard to classify

Sergeant Sarchie (Eric Bana) investigates ancient writing found at a crime scene in Deliver Us from Evil.  - Sony Pictures
Sergeant Sarchie (Eric Bana) investigates ancient writing found at a crime scene in Deliver Us from Evil.
— image credit: Sony Pictures

Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) of the NYPD is trying to solve a strange mystery involving inexplicable crimes taking place in his city.

When it becomes apparent that there is something other-worldly behind the crimes, he takes up with an unconventional priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) to do battle against the much older evil that controls certain New Yorkers.

Deliver Us from Evil is based on the true case files of Sarchie’s book.

We say, “Apparently, if you’ve seen one exorcism...”

TAYLOR: Deliver Us from Evil is not a bad film. It has all the right pieces in the right places. It’s dark, moody, tense and occasionally, a tiny bit scary. It sets itself up quite like a regular crime drama, with nasty business taking place and gritty cops trying to figure out “who done it.”

During the course of the investigation, Sarchie and his partner Butler (Joel McHale, from Community in his most dramatic, action-packed role to date) keep discovering certain figures that can do the impossible, seeming to have mental powers and superhuman strength.

Furthering the mystery is that Sarchie and Butler don’t see things the same way. It seems Sarchie’s “radar” involves a knack for receiving messages from demons.

HOWE: I can’t believe they have classed Deliver Us from Evil as a horror. I’ve had to change babies’ nappies scarier than this. I’m not saying that this is a bad movie, far from it, but when you put it in this class of film it has to have some frightening scenes.

Now if they had classed it as a supernatural thriller, because after all that is what it is, it would be up there with White Noise and Mirrors.

TAYLOR: Or to put it another way, regardless of what you call the movie, it is at best mediocre. For the record, it is generally accepted that thrillers take place in the real world and horrors involve something supernatural. So a supernatural thriller would be a horror. The Friday the 13th series would be a thriller, if it wasn’t for the fact that the killer Jason is invincible. Unfortunately Deliver Us from Evil is neither thrilling nor horrifying.

HOWE: I found myself laughing at it. Some of the lines are comical as well, as is some of the acting dotted throughout. I can let slide some of it, from the likes of McHale and Ramirez, but when you have someone like Bana leading, I expected more from him.

TAYLOR: I don’t expect much from horror films, but I like them. I see them all because it is an opportunity for a film to take you places you wouldn’t want to imagine, in ways that are inventive and interesting. This film is not inventive, nor interesting. It did not annoy me, but that’s really not enough.

HOWE: Deliver Us from Evil did keep me entertained from start to finish. But if you’re looking for a good scare, this isn’t it. Go rent or download The Conjuring instead. If a mystery/thriller is your thing, this is a nice treat.

Howe gives Deliver Us from Evil 3 cats out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2 songs by The Doors out of 5.

The film is currently playing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column runs every Friday and Sunday in The Morning Star.


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