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DVD Review

DVD cover

Deliver Us from Evil


Starring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris and Joel McHale
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 05 January 2015

Plain clothes New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (sounds like a designer label!) is investigating a series of seemingly unrelated atrocities involving the deaths of babies and infant children (the innocents). A raid at the City Zoo after closing time reveals a hideous hooded figure who appears to control the actions of others by means of an ancient-looking phrase on a wall. He is painting it out as police arrive. Later, Sarchie is approached by an ex-junkie-turned-priest who tells him people who read the phrase are being possessed by a demon, and that they should turn to God for help. Sarchie has his own personal issues with God, but takes the help he is offered. Then a connection is made to some American soldiers serving in Iraq, and an age-old evil which has returned with them to America...

I’ve seen what must be a multitude of demon possession horror films in recent years, the majority of which have been mediocre at best; so it would be true to say I wasn’t expecting very much from this example. Although a number of clichés are in place here (the heavy-handed hero sporting an issue with God, the ever-present priest at odds with the Vatican, scary visions and black face make-up, etc.) I found that Deliver Us From Evil works on several levels. It combines the police procedural genre with the haunted house (Sarchie’s young daughter being terrorised by scratching in the walls and the sudden slamming of doors in her bedroom), the emotive domestic misunderstanding (the wife believing she is being shut out, and that their daughter is compensating her father working all hours and not being around by making up stories about her experiences), the Omen-like pre-Christ inscription, which then comes full circle to a contemporary story of demonic possession.

Admittedly, some of the plot is predictable, but it’s this genre cross-over which helps support the premise. Albeit far from unique, it does make the plot far more interesting – a storyline which according to the short Making-of documentary on the extras is supposed to be based on real-life events. I don’t know about that, but I do think the cop role seems to suit actor Eric Bana quite well (certainly considerably better than the David/Bruce Banner role in the two Hulk movies he made), playing the character right down as if he’s trying really hard to treat the situation like any other he might come across on the streets of New York. The balance is pitched just right, I think, and there are some nice scares which aren’t just cheap tricks. Much of the time the atmosphere is kept a little off-kilter by Sarchie’s visions, the sounds in his head of children playing, and the curious but clever recurrences of lyrics or songs heard by the band The Doors – particularly 'People Are Strange', and 'Break On Through (From the Other Side)'.


Ty Power

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