Crime and Possession

“Deliver Us From Evil” is the latest film of Scott Derrickson, who previously directed “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. The former, which was about an ancient demon who lurked in film (a bit meta), frightened the heck out of me. Months after watching the movie, I still felt uneasy whenever I’d see film projectors (e.g. the logo of Steven Levitan productions). Meanwhile, the latter is thematically similar to DUFE: both stories are about possession and are purportedly based on real life.

don't be deceived by this underwhelming poster

don’t be deceived by this underwhelming poster

The difference here is that the protagonist is a cop. A cop movie that’s also a horror movie? Sounds like “End of Days” but this is much better. The source of the story is the memoir written by a former New York City cop, who witnessed a number of exorcism of people who were allegedly possessed when they committed crimes. Although predictable in some parts, the movie seamlessly combined the elements of a whodunit with bump-in-the-night scares of the horror genre.

the real Ralph Sarchie

the real Ralph Sarchie*

The big bad in this film is a demon that was accidentally released during a military operation in Iraq (shades of “The Exorcist”), which used one of the three soldiers to hitch a ride to the US. Upon returning, the former soldiers started a house painting company. The spirit expanded its influence through a spell that the possessed soldier wrote on the walls of their clients. People started behaving strangely, ultimately becoming violent and murderous.

Sarchie, who is gifted with the nose for the juicy cases, and his partner Butler (Joel McHale) encounter these unfortunate people but they are convinced that their afflictions are anything but supernatural. Enter Father Joe Mendoza (Cesar Ramirez, who looks like Naveen Andrews at first glance), one of the swarthiest priest in recent cinematic history. Together, Sarchie and Mendoza sort out the mystery of why seemingly random people are going crazy and committing violent crimes in the darkened corners of the city. The things this pair come in contact with are frightening, gory, and at times difficult to un-see.

the priest and the cop

the priest and the cop*

Scott Derrickson is a master at creating a frightening atmosphere within ordinary settings. In his hands an ordinary house or street can elicit fear and apprehension. In this movie he does it to one of my most favorite places: the zoo. Most of the movie was shot at night, given the fact that Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) worked at night.

The performances of the actors are uniformly great. Eric Bana imbued his character with a grim determination that was calibrated just right. Joel McHale provided a bit of comic relief that contrasted with the gloomy proceedings. Sean Harris (last seen in “Prometheus”) as the possessed marine was really terrifying. Olivia Munn as the housewife made the most of a brief (and somewhat under-written) role. However, it was Cesar Ramirez who proved to be a real chewer of the scenery, effectively eclipsing Joel McHale’s sidekick.

Scott Derrickson effectively ramped up the stakes (and the scares) by putting Sarchie’s family–mostly his daughter–in harm’s way and by culminating in a big, bloody, and truly mesmerizing exorcism scene that is both scary and unforgettable.

Watch this, horror fans! 🙂

*images courtesy of the movie’s official Facebook page



About the pensive poet

development worker. kasuyo. bugtong na anak. retired drag queen. kalaguyo. kaibigan. future carpenter, bread-maker, or bar-tender. feeling manunulat at makata. borderline obsessive-compulsive. control freak. book worm. isnabero. mahiyain. astang cineaste. aspiring photographer.

Posted on July 6, 2014, in review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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