<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Scott Derrickson. Starring Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale
An underrated scary movie that’s well made and deftly executed, Deliver Us From Evil is an engaging watch.
This Jerry Bruckheimer production is ‘Inspired By The Actual Accounts Of An NYPD Sergeant’, which in itself doesn’t make it scarier. But it’s not just the ‘based on a true story’ tag; it’s also the chilling performances given by Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez and Sean Harris as well as the no-gimmicks direction that makes Deliver Us From Evil believable.
Bana plays former real life NYPD special crimes Sergeant Ralph Sarchie who has shunned religion and patrols the mean streets of New York City at night with a keen sixth sense of when trouble is lurking around the corner. Butler (Joel McHale) is his tough but wisecracking partner who acts as a balance to Sarchie’s stoic seriousness. Their investigations lead them to a series of crimes and mysterious happenings that are interconnected by three painters who were formerly buddies in the Marines.
A modern-day priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) is involved in counselling one of the suspects who has tossed her child over a lion enclosure at the Bronx Zoo at night. He warns Sarchie that the evil in this case isn’t that of humans but the primal evil of something more sinister. Through the course of the film Sarchie slowly experiences paranormal incidents that both intrigue and anger him. He thought that he had seen the worst evils in the scum of the earth that he hauled into the 46th Precinct every night. Even this hardened police veteran can’t believe the grave acts of evil that are now being perpetrated.
Sarchie’s family consist of his wife Jen (Olivia Munn) and daughter, both of whom are eventually caught up in the demonic possession that is enveloping them all. The midpoint of it is coming from one of the members of that mysterious Marine Corp trio, Santino (Sean Harris), whose tribal painted face and black eyes are far scarier than any screaming girl with long hair the ‘horror’ films nowadays seem to be overusing. More than that, Sean Harris has silently given such an ominous and eerie performance that he overshadows any scary movie monster you can think of. In the end, humans are far scarier than CGI/makeup monsters.
Eric Bana has given a fine, committed and convincing portrayal of the cop he spent time with before assaying the role. McHale, a good friend of director Scott Derrickson, was cast in this role that was written specifically for him and though he uses his comic talents brilliantly, he sort of gets lost once Edgar Ramirez ‘partners’ up with Bana’s character. Olivia Munn as the wife who at first understands her husband’s job and then later gives him grief for not ‘talking’ to her isn’t given much else to do, which is a shame. The most poignant scenes are the ones where Bana’s Sarchie and Ramirez’s Mendoza are engaged in conversation about faith, evil and life.
Sean Harris is actually the real star of Deliver Us From Evil. You have to watch it to understand why. Even director Derrickson has said in the DVDs extras that they found him to be a perfect fit for the role. And he so is.
I missed watching this film at the press show when it released and wasn’t expecting much from the DVD but was very pleasantly surprised (and disturbed) by Deliver Us From Evil. Certainly a must-watch for fans of this genre.
1) Illuminating Evil
This 12-minute feature has the cast and crew talking about bringing this true-life story (based on a 2001 non-fiction book entitled Beware the Night by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool) to the big screen. They spent time with real life retired Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (who has no resemblance to Bana at all). The film was even shot in his patrol neighbourhood, the South Bronx, which was at one time the most dangerous square mile in America!
The cast and crew are all intelligent and very well-versed with their subject so it’s a pleasure to listen to them in this feature.
There is a generic ad for Blu-Ray Discs. And then trailers for other scary/thriller movies: Grace: The Possession, No Good Deal, The Remaining, The Equalizer.
3) Commentary by director Scott Derrickson
You can choose to turn on the audio commentary by the director which plays in the background while the movie is going on telling you about a scene and interesting facts that took place in its production.
DVD Courtesy Sony DADC