In Deliver Us From Evil, New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie's bone-chilling real-life cases.
‘Deliver Us From Evil‘ has a good premise and the trailers were quite promising, and even the main story line about a NY detective investigating some really creepy stuff has its merits. But although ‘Deliver Us From Evil‘ has some creepy moments and a surprisingly good exorcism scene, its bad dialogue, story telling, and acting make this possession movie less than stellar and not the horror movie you were hoping for.
Director Scott Derrickson and writer Paul Harris Boardman have been collaborating on movies together for many years. They worked on ‘Scream 4‘, ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose‘, and ‘Sinister‘ together, so here is proof that these two talents are no stranger to the horror genre nor the possession angle. Again, like most of the horror movies these days, this one too is based on a true story. This time it’s Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), a NY family man and police detective who is known for capturing the worst of criminals. The real Sarchie was also a cop, but later transitioned into investigating the paranormal and demonic forces. He has even worked with Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are the couple who investigated the hauntings in ‘The Amityville Horror‘ and ‘The Conjuring‘.
But this movie takes place before he decided to dive into the paranormal, but was probably the jump start to it all. Sarchie is joined by his partner Butler (Joel McHale), also a tough cop who thinks Sarchie has a gut feeling he calls ‘the radar’, where Sarchie always ends up the most thrilling disputes and cases. While Sarchie is great at his job, his wife (Olivia Munn) and young daughter don’t have the husband/father time they desire. Sarchie takes call after call, where he experiences some very creepy and unexplainable things, such as a woman throwing her baby over a railing at the zoo into a lion’s den, strange voices and knocks, lights burning out for no reason, and sane people turning into violent shades of themselves.
To help him along the way both figuratively and spiritually is Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) who might know what’s going on in with these cases, which is some other force at work. A force of pure evil. This all comes to a head with an exorcism at the police station, which was surprisingly well done. But besides that and a few other minor creepy moments, ‘Deliver Us From Evil‘ is riddled with laughable and bland dialogue, terrible chemistry, and redundant story-telling, as our detectives travel through dark basement after dark basement for some cheap thrills and scares. It gets old fast.
And the banter between Sarchie and Butler was so monotone and awful, that I feel like it was written by a 5th grader. And I won’t get into the awful writing for the only African American in the film who is a fellow police detective whose only lines during the exorcism are “Oh my fuck” and “What the Fuck?” Needless to say, the filmmakers didn’t give any thought to that character let alone any of the other ones. The only shining actor here Sean Harris, who plays Santino, the possessed guy who is making it accessible for other demons to possess others. His creepiness is amazing and his exorcism scene is quite terrifying. Still, if you’re a fan of horror and the possession genre, you might find a couple of things you like here.
'Deliver Us From Evil' comes with a perfect 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. If you're wanting to demo a dark horror movie to your friends to show them how amazing the picture is on your new television, then this Blu-ray is the one to showcase. It's virtually flawless. This paranormal possession film is mostly shot in dark corridors, basements, and at night time, giving the video presentation plenty of room for major issues with shadows, colors, and detail. However with this particular Blu-ray, that's not the case. The image here is outstanding.
Even in the dark interiors and exteriors, Sony has delivered an amazing amount of detail that is very vivid and sharp at all times. Individual hairs, blood, rotted wood, makeup effects, and wounds look very impressive here and gives the image a life like quality. Props and costume textures also stand out nicely and reveal fine stitching, which gives the image some great depth. While colors won't pop off screen, because there is barely any warm natural reds, oranges, greens,or browns to shine here, the colors do give that always ominous feel that something creepy is about to happen. The blues, grays, and few blood reds do stand out nicely though. The black levels are very deep and inky throughout and the skin tones are perfectly natural. There were zero instances of any noise, banding, aliasing, or any other problem, leaving this video presentation with a perfect score.
This release comes with a flawless lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. Much like the video presentation above, this audio track is fully immersive and presents zero problems. In fact, this is a demo-worthy audio mix. Sony has made a very scary and well-balanced horror mix with 'Deliver Us From Evil' that kicks off during the opening scene. Sound effects of growls in the night to gun shots sound very realistic, loud, and lively without any over use. Ambient noises of the rain, thunder, and crawling insects also sound perfect, and will make you look over your shoulder to see if there is something crawling on you.
Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand without any pops, cracks, or hissing to speak of. The dialogue is perfectly placed on the center channel. There is some great directionality here as well. And especially during the heavier action scenes and particularly during the final scene of the film, the surrounds pack a powerful punch and put you in the center of all the horror. The soundtrack always adds to the suspense in each scene while never drowning out any dialogue or sound effect and has a haunting effect. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is extremely wide. This audio track is what every horror movie should sound like.
Audio Commentary - Writer/Director Scott Derrickson provides this amazing commentary that is full of some great information. He dives into making the film, which consists of shooting on location, the difficulties of making this picture, the themes, characters, and the actor's performances. He also talks about the real life guy, Ralph Sarchie, who this movie is based on, and all the similarities and differences from real life to screen. Derrickson does an amazing job of conveying his thoughts on the film and moviemaking process. Excellent commentary track here.
Illuminating Evil: Make 'Deliver Us From Evil' (HD, 14 Mins.) - Here is a decent look at the real life Ralph Sarchie with interviews with Sarchie along with discussions of the script, themes, and characters of the film. This is worth watching.
'Deliver Us From Evil' isn't the possession film we were all hoping for, although the exorcism scene alone is worth watching it for. But there is a slower pace than normal and some cheesy story plots and a fair share of less than stellar acting. The video and audio are demo worthy and the extras are quite good. Even though this isn't the best possession film, it has some great moments, leaving this release recommended.