Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us from Evil blends a cop drama with that of a tale of possession and how demons will latch onto the souls of the innocent and terrorize everyone around them. It makes for a haunting atmosphere as the dirty work of the NYPD is scary enough as it is, but combining that life with the demonic is a fantastic canvas for Derrickson to paint his skin-crawling tale. The film follows NY police officer Ralph Sarchie who joins forces with a priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to rid the city of demonic possession. The heart of the film beats around those that are possessed and eventually leads to the film’s big exorcism scene, but does Derrickson himself deliver the goods? Unfortunately, not quite.
The biggest strength in Deliver Us from Evil is the way that it moves throughout the narrative at a pretty quick pace, bouncing from one creepy scene to the next. It never lets you settle in and get comfortable as there’s always a flicker of the light or scratching against the wall to grab your attention as you wait to see what lies in the darkness. The fast pacing of the film, however, comes at a price because a lot of the events that transpire almost feel a little too convenient, like they were trying to put the puzzle pieces together too fast. So while you’re most likely not going to be bored when you sit down to watch Deliver Us from Evil, you might feel a little rushed as the story unfolds.
I will say though that it’s nice to actually take a seat in the theater and watch an adult horror flick for once that isn’t afraid to toss a little bit of the red stuff around. There’s not much CGI to be found here and the makeup effects are quite good, especially that of Sean Harris—who plays Santino in the film—as his character’s body is littered with cuts and blood. These are the kind of movies we need more of, it’s just too bad that this one never strays from the path of the familiar. Which brings me to the film’s biggest flaw.
The major problem with a film centered around exorcisms is the simple fact that we’ve just about seen it all already. Breathing new life into a story like this is no easy task, but if you’re going to tell it, at least think outside of the box. While Deliver Us from Evil isn’t exactly a bad movie, the entire film just felt much too safe and familiar. It’s a shame, really, because Derrickson had an amazing chance with this one—it being rated R and all—to create a movie that not only could terrify the audience, but rethink the way we see exorcisms on film. Instead, however, we get a tale surrounded by jump scares and a finale that’s much too safe for its own good.
So despite Derrickson’s greatest efforts, you won’t be finding anything in Deliver Us from Evil that you haven’t seen before. It’s a decent enough flick that will certainly scare some along the way, but for those of you seeking out a horror film that swings for those proverbial fences and tries to bring something new to the genre, well you might want to look elsewhere.