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DELIVER US FROM EVIL (director: Scott Derrickson; screenwriters: Paul Harris Boardman/from the book “Beware the Night,” by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool; cinematographer: Scott Kevan; editor: Jason Hellman; music: Christopher Young; cast: Eric Bana (Sgt. Sarchie), Edgar Ramirez (Priest, Mendoza), Olivia Munn (Jen), Joel McHale (Butler), Chris Coy (Jimmy), Dorian Missick (Gordon), Sean Harris (Santino), Lulu Wilson (Christina), Olivia Horton (Jane), Scott Johnsen (Griggs), Daniel Sauli (Salvatore); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Jerry Bruckheimer; Sony Pictures Entertainment /Screen Gems; 2014)
A derivative, fetid and ugly exorcism horror flick.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A derivative, fetid and ugly exorcism horror flick haplessly directed by the numbers by an overwhelmed Scott Derrickson(“Sinister”/”The Day The Earth Stood Still”/”The Exorcism of Emily Rose”), who takes another whack at an exorcism film after his relative success with”Emily Rose.” This pic is based on the 2001 memoir by Ralph Sarchie; while the promos for the film tell us it’s “inspired by the actual accounts of an NYPD sergeant,” when it seems to be actually inspired by a long list of terrible Hollywood films.

Sarchie’s a rough macho street cop who supposedly evolved from fighting “secondary evil” as an NYPD detective to combating “primary evil” as a demonologist, after retiring from the force. We’re asked to believe that the Hollywood crap served up in this lousy horror film. It’s filled with cliches, shamelessly uses a crucifix to combat evil and overloads us with typical horror movie scare tactics of startling noises, gross-out bloody scenes and possessed toys and dolls creeping us out. These things supposedly happened in Sarchie’s real-life experiences as a cop in the crime-ridden South Bronx (which seems unrealistically inhabited by all white people and no minorities). The screenwriter for this mess is Paul Harris Boardman, who blends together a lesser supernatural tale and a lesser police detective action/procedural story into a horror picture that is more silly than scary.

Sgt. Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is a tough undercover detective working in an elite unit, with a clairvoyant gift, earning him the nickname “radar,” for tuning into criminal activity. Sarchie is teamed with the boorish, knife carrying, Red Sox hat wearing Butler (Joel McHale), who is not afraid of looking for trouble. The good guy sergeant has a lovely wife (Olivia Munn) and a cute 6-year-old daughter (Lulu Wilson). The workaholic cop neglects his family, as he’s all in on his job. For the past week there’s been a series of crimes in the Bronx, such as a vicious wife beater, a former Iraq War marine (Scott Johnsen), who needs to be violently subdued; a crazed woman (Olivier Horton) who recites the lyrics to a Doors song and thereby tosses her child into the lions’ cage at the Bronx Zoo; and, an Italian immigrant family that claim there are strange noises coming from the basement of their private home.This leads to the gruesome discovery of the corpse of the wife beater’s marine buddy from Iraq. These criminal incidents turn out to be linked to possible demonic possessions, and the lapsed Catholic, Sarchie, a skeptic, reluctantly accepts the help of an unconventional Jesuit priest, Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), a former bad-ass, coolly dressed in civilian clothes, as he tries to understand that what he’s up against is pure evil that can’t be stopped by the usual police work.

Warning: spoiler in next paragraph.

It leads to Sarchie’s conversion into a true believer in exorcisms. It comes about as a result of the hokey jail cell exorcism of the drooling and blood-stained grisly hoodie wearing crazed former marine Santino (Sean Harris), a third marine buddy of the others mentioned, who while out on a desert patrol during the Iraq War, some four years ago, entered a cave and seemingly became possessed with evil by the Babylonian inscription in it.

Aside from being unimpressed with the supernatural side of the film, it was tough to watch because it was drenched in almost total darkness and it seemed as if the viewer would need those army night goggles to see clearly what was happening on the screen and a strong religious conviction or belief in superstitions to reach the same conclusion as Sarchie that it was the Devil who made those in the South Bronx do all the crime.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”