Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn
It’s Iraq 2010, the middle of a war, and in between palm trees, a dark, mysterious cave leads deep into the sand. Those should be enough reasons to not venture in, particularly in just a group of three of which one is wielding only a video camera.
The three Marines bring back not just post-traumatic stress disorder from that encounter. Soon after the cave incident, they brutally attack their unit’s chaplain and are “dishonorably discharged”. Three years later, they are in the Bronx, New York, and at the centre of a trail of supernatural events, which end in people either butchered or badly injured.
That brings them to the notice of Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Bana) of NYPD, who pieces together what’s happening quickly enough but then goes about resolving it inexplicably slowly. In the process, Deliver Us From Evil, after a taut, thrill-filled start, goes slack, gory and repetitive till finally ending in an over-the-top, extended exorcism that leaves us none the wiser on what the fuss was all about.
Even if “evil that can’t be explained” is the easiest cop-out of all horrors, this film based on a book by the real-life Sarchie, an NYPD detective turned occult investigator, leaves us completely clueless amidst all the Latin being spewed. The ex-Marines apparently stumbled upon a Latin-Persian inscription in that Iraq cave, seeking a doorway for Satan. Possessed, they scratch floors, walls, sidewalks, and for some reason never explained get others to do cruel things — such as forcing a woman to throw her infant child into a lion moat at the Bronx Zoo.
The hunt at the zoo at night-time, without lights, for that woman is one of the most horrific in the film, rendered even so more in the light of last week’s incident at Delhi Zoo. However, in what suspiciously appears like Church-driven agenda, Deliver Us From Evil veers constantly towards questions such as Sarchie’s disenchantment with God, and the need to rediscover Him and the Church. And then there’s the chain-smoking, jogging, drinking, flirting priest, Father Mendoza, played to full Latin American sexiness by Edgar Ramirez, who is here, there, everywhere, wrestling down maniacs with his small cross.
Ramirez chews up at leisure the scenes he shares with Bana, even though the latter again shows why he remains watchable in the most cliched of scenarios. Here, when Sarchie isn’t fighting spirits, lions, badly behaved cats and worse behaved people, he is constantly justifying to wife (Munn) and daughter why he isn’t “around more”.
The one always around though is the band The Doors. Given its fascination for Satanic imagery, it would have been pleased at how comfortably it dwells in Deliver Us From Evil.
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