Let me apologise in advance, but it’s not even really my fault. Prior to watching this new horror from Scott Derrickson, I really couldn’t muster up the energy to even watch the trailer. I mean, really, how long did Derrickson spend coming up with the title? Could it be less inspired? Come to that, just how relevant is it?
You can be forgiven for imagining that, at first glance, Deliver Us From Evil is nothing more than ‘just another of those movies’. You know what I’m talking about, those horror flicks aimed squarely at a demographic that hasn’t quite got enough stubble to speak of, littered with lank-haired Grudge wannabes that do their damnedest to contort themselves into impossible physical positions as if to demonstrate just how possessed they really are. ‘This’ type of movie tends to be altogether two-dimensional, lacks much of a plot or depth of characters, avoids just enough gore to appease the censors and treats its audience with all of the respect reserved for something squishy that it has just accidentally trodden in.
Coming from the man that has already brought us The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister and Devil’s Knot, the choice of genre should come as no great surprise. And to be fair to the man, Derrickson’s work so far has enjoyed favourable box office success, even if it can’t quite shout about the critical plaudits. You certainly can’t fault the chap for effort and work ethic.
And here, Derrickson attempts to fiddle with the now well-visited demon/possession genre to such an extent that he nearly turns the whole thing a little bit noir. Inspired by the writings of Ralph Sarchie, the policeman that all of this unpleasantness is purportedly based around, what we’re offered is maybe less what you might have come to expect from ‘this type of film’, and maybe more from the likes of David Fincher in his ‘I love Kevin Spacey’ period.
Eric Bana takes on the role of Sarchie, who is charged with investigating some rather grisly murders in New York. The films opens, however, with an establishing scene of soldiers in Iraq, armed with a handy video camera (of course) as they come across something in a cave that they don’t understand, but it is clearly, to us the audience, an unfortunate find, as the screams can be heard from these unwitting men even when the camera blacks out, leaving us a teasing ‘just what happened’ that will slowly become more obvious as time goes on in the travails of Sarchie and his quest to uncover what seems, incredibly to him as much as anyone else, something spiritual and really quite annoyed.
Derrickson seems keen to avoid the stereotypical demon/possession stories here, choosing to focus more on Sarchie’s attempts to unravel a mystery that becomes seemingly more outlandish with every new discovery, until even he has to admit that whilst people are indeed strange, there is more afoot here than even the perversity of man. Bana’s performance is perfectly acceptable, delivering a sometimes cringe worthy script with all of the good intention he can muster, but this is lowest common denominator fare from Derrickson and this will neither challenge nor impress an audience that will have seen this subject approached if not with more consideration, then certainly bigger chills and greater scares before, which is probably the reason that most audiences, like myself, actually turned up to see it.
At just under two hours, the film does tend to drag on occasion, possibly making more of the reflective scenes than the audience requires and this makes the film tiresome in certain areas, as Derrickson force feeds an extra thirty minutes into his audience that isn’t really required, if he’d only given the audience more credit for following what is a simple and predictable plot.
Visceral on occasion, the level of gore is not ever what you might call excessive, but the film does enjoy its fair share of tense scenes and for roughly half of the film you will sit up and take notice without being forced into it. The rest of the show is preamble, if we’re honest, and probably superfluous for an audience with an IQ above that of your common garden snail.
Given it’s reluctance to become embroiled so completely in the supernatural, this makes Deliver Us From Evil one of the least memorable horror experiences of the year, if also one of the most surprising and risky. You need to be fan of the genre to take much from it, however, so it’s recommended only for those that really think they will get something from it before they see it. As a purely casual observer, if you miss it, then you really haven’t missed much.
Written for Media Pick
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