Friday, 22 August 2014

REVIEW - DELIVER US FROM EVIL (SCOTT DERRICKSON)


Deliver Us from Evil is billed as being 'inspired by the actual accounts of an NYPD sergeant'. Actual in the sense that the accounts actually exist, not that what is described therein is actually true. That's what makes Scott Derrickson's film so peculiarly sad, despite its many efforts to be dynamic - it's a film about several deeply disturbed individuals, either deluded or delusional (or both), and its dramatic sincerity is thus revealed to be a crass and elaborate advertisement for catholicism. That echoes what another film writer, one far more accomplished than me, had to say about another, classic exorcism film, one far more accomplished than this. It does strike me that contemporary filmmakers largely lack the desire to craft classic horror films, though that appears to be what Derrickson's doing here, with the sporadic stylistic experimentation, the ambitious genre shifts, the pompous moralising etc. Deliver Us from Evil even opens with a desert-set sequence that hints toward the origin of the terrors that are about to be inflicted on some poor white Americans. Derrickson clumsily attempts to combine a number of arguments behind the nature of whatever horror or pain is suffered, including offering an insight into Eric Bana's cop's unstable mind. Alongside establishing him as our guide through this mess, thus basically exalting all of his nonsense theories, this idea isn't even handled well, as it's dropped as soon as Derrickson can be allowed to let loose on his arsenal of scare tactics. His techniques are growing a bit stale, but only a bit - by and large they're still very effective, and Deliver Us from Evil is a genuinely frightening film as a result. He's aided by some very creepy makeup effects, and a characteristically intense and unsettling performance from Sean Harris. The pairing of Bana and Edgar Ramirez is unremarkable, and Olivia Munn's there too. I suspect Sergeant Sarchie's accounts didn't mention his wife much. Yeh, that'll be it.