Wednesday 27 August 2014

Deliver Us From Evil

Performance Evil-uation

Deliver Us From Evil
2014 USA
Directed by Scott Derrickson
UK Cinema release print.

I’m not quite sure what to make of Scott Derrickson as a director. On the one hand he directed Sinister (reviewed here), which is not a film I had a great deal of good things to say about, although I did try and defend certain aspects of it as well as I could, considering some of the negative points I mentioned in that review. However, you’ve also got to remember that this is the same director who gave us, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, one of the better of the “exorcism” films made in recent years. A very well made piece of horror/courtroom cinema, if you ever get the chance to take a look at it.

I had no preconceptions about Deliver Us From Evil going in. I can’t remember if I’d seen a trailer for it or not, it could be any of a number of horror movie trailers doing the rounds in the last couple of months, but I figured I would go and take a look at it because it didn’t look like it was a remake of anything and so it scored points with me straight away on that count.

The film is based on the true life account of a cop, Ralph Sarchie, who is played by Eric Bana in the movie and it details his encounters with supernatural forces dealing with demonic possession. He is at the start of the movie, of course, cynical of such things himself but when the things he sees and encounters as a cop on the beat become less and less explainable, he “teams up”, so to speak, with a priest, Mendoza, played by Édgar Ramírez, who is able to guide him and help him in a series of connected cases which involve demonic possession and which ultimately lead straight back to Sarchie and his family. Sarchie’s “radar” at finding troubling incidents on the beat is revealed as a possible “gift” of the supernatural... but it also acts like a magnet to demonic entities who are attracted to this talent.

The film starts off pretty strong, with an opening sequence which takes place in Iraq and which is relevant to pretty much all the events that happen later in the movie. I’m happy to say it keeps up the pacing and is an interesting movie throughout. Now how successful it is depends on your definition of what you look for in a good movie as opposed to a good horror movie. Let me explain that a little...

You’ve got two very strong male leads, A list stars, with Eric Bana and Édgar Ramírez and they’re not really actors you would associate with the horror genre. They both do an excellent job in this, as do all the supporting cast and, although there’s a hell of a lot of hand held shaky camera throughout the film, it actually in some ways feels like a 1970s movie and, frankly, that’s a strength. Yes, I know it’s actually set in 2013 but what I mean to say is the acting style and delivery of the lines feels like something made in Hollywood back when great American movies were being made and this is a pretty good compliment to pay to any movie in my book.

However... the flip side of that is that, although the film does maintain a certain amount of tension and suspense throughout the picture, I wouldn’t actually call this a scary movie... so in regards to certain ingredients of this kind of entertainment I would say it downplays one of the elements somewhat. But this is not a bad thing either.... some of the classic horror films of all time, such as Bride Of Frankenstein or Creature From The Black Lagoon are not , in actual fact, scary and so this shouldn’t necessarily be the barometer by which you judge this movie, in all honesty. Part of that, I think, is to do with the way the camera cuts to different points of view in various sequences... the ones which are trying to be scary... when it maybe needed to stick to something resembling point of view in those moments.

However, although it may not be a scary film it is, certainly, a pretty great one and I, like all people, truly appreciate a well made movie. I think this movie is one of the ones I would like to nominate as one of my “comfort horror movies”... that is to say, horror films you can relax with and have on when you want to do some thinking with a little bit of distraction coming from the screen. It is something I would like to watch again on a number of occasions and I’ll certainly be grabbing the blu ray of it when it comes down in the sales.

Of course, I may be a bit harsh in regards to the amount of scares and sustainable tension packed within the film... which felt a little more like a police procedural movie at times (and there’s nothing wrong with that). Different things scare different people and you really can’t go that wrong when you’ve got one of the great modern composers, Christopher Young, turning in one of his trademark horror scores. So the best, sure fire way to find out if this is your kind of horror movie is, of course, to go see it for yourself. I’ve certainly got no doubts about recommending it to anyone because it’s a well made, entertaining piece of cinema which should hold your interest throughout. Whether you happen to find it scary or not is just an extra cherry on an already tasty cake. Miss this one at your peril.

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