In “Deliver Us From Evil” Eric Bana is Sarchie, an NYPD cop partnered with Butler (Joel McHale), his wisecracking sidekick.
Like Messrs. Tango and Cash, they are fearless but somewhat mismatched. Sarchie is a cop with “radar,” a nose for trouble, while Butler is a wisenheimer who, when a disheveled suspect grimaces at him, foaming at the mouth, says, “Do you think she’s single?”
A series of seemingly unrelated 911 calls—a domestic dispute, an incident at a zoo and a possible home invasion—change the story from cop drama to supernatural police procedural. Strange things happen. Holy candles won’t burn in the house of one of the 911 callers. One of the perps speaks Latin and scratches until her fingers bleed.
Skeptical at first Sarchie refuses to blame “invisible fairies” for the strange behavior, but working with a Jesuit Priest, Father Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez), Sarchie and Butler become convinced there is more at play here than just human nature.
The investigation leads them to a trio of men, (Chris Coy, Dorian Missick and Sean Harris) soldiers who returned from Iraq with PTDS (Post Traumatic Demonic Possession.) Piecing together the links becomes a dangerous job for Butler, Sarchie and even the officer’s family (Oliver Munn and daughter played by Lulu Wilson).
“Delivers Us From Evil” relies on jump scares—those “boo” moments that get your heart racing—and while a few of the jumps work, most simply deliver a jolt with nothing behind it, but there is at least one shock cat lovers are going to h-a-t-e.
There is plenty of atmosphere—apparently it rains all the time in the Bronx—and a few creepy moments—was that a snake or an old pipe?—but the truly eerie stuff is underplayed when a movie like this should be really dialing up the action.
It’s all a bit dull. There are no truly memorable moments. We’ve seen the exorcism stuff before—without the head spinning and pea soup—in everything from “The Exorcist” to “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” but the thing that really sinks the movie’s momentum aren’t the stock characters or lack of new thrills but the exposition scenes that explain the obvious. Director Scott Derrickson, who also made the considerably creepier “Sinister,” doesn’t trust the audience to follow the simple story so he has the characters walk us through it almost one line at a time.
“Deliver Us From Evil” doesn’t feel like a summer movie. Usually we look to July and August to deliver us from lame movies but this one has the feel of those horror flicks starring a familiar-but-less-than-household-name that fills up theatres in January and February.