Based upon accounts of NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie, this movie delves into the religious, the supernatural, the occult and things that go bump in the night.
Scott Dickerson is the man who brought us movies such as Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and he continues the trend of keepingyou on the edge of your seat with Deliver Us from Evil. The man was meant to direct horror films. He has a firm grasp on the angles that make your heart beat just a little bit fast and knows just how to make a person freak out with just a bit of Latin. This, when you think about it, is not a scary language. Vini, Vidi, Vici is not scary. We all know this phrase and use it on a daily basis, but he finds a way to turn a dead language into the language of the dead. That, somehow by reading a few simple phrases, the devil is going to pop of the screen, and that is why he is so good at these kinds of movies.
Another aspect to the film that works on another level is that it's not over-the-top gory. It may seem "old-fashioned", but no one really wants to see over-the-top blood. The audience wants to be scared not grossed out. Dickerson does just that. Yes, you see blood, but it's the amount a body can hold. We don't see any wound go over-the-top (except for one scene, yes, but it is still medically sound). Things are kept in the shadows, and even when you do see something disgusting, it makes you scared but not wanting to throw up.
The acting in the film is also top-notch. Sadly, horror films will never win many awards, but Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez do superb jobs as Ralph Sarchie and Father Mendoza, respectfully. Bana does the New York accent really well and really brings you into his state of mind, and that is what we want from our actors. Ramirez gives a really good performance as Father Mendoza. They are both playing characters with a skeleton in their closet, and they are able to hold that skeleton behind their eyes. They are both tortured yet not beyond redemption, and in the end it is that redemption that saves them both. Lulu Wilson, who plays the daughter of Bana and Olivia Munn, was a scene stealer. It has been said that children are hard to work with and that sometimes it is the children who can bring down a movie, but not in this case. She was the one that I was always hoping nothing bad would happen to. Sean Harris as Santino, the possessed former military soldier, makes you believe he is really possessed. I know that there is a good amount of make-up on him and he hardly ever says a word until the very end of the movie, but he makes you not want to read the Latin phrase he keeps writing in the movie.
The performance that I didn't buy completely into, and through no real fault of his own, was Joel McHale. He played himself, which, if the character was a smart ass, is fine. It just would have been nice with all these complex characters to have seen a character that was not so two dimensional. He was created to serve a purpose, and he executed it, but there was no other depth to him. The same can be said about the Olivia Munn character. She is there to play the wife who gets angry, and that stereotype can get a little old.
The special effects are minimal and seem to be more practical than CGI, which you want to see in a horror film. You don't want to see a bunch of CGI. It always seems to take away from the film, if done poorly, or just not deliver in general. Practical effects are usually much better and if done properly can give another side to the movie, almost becoming a character unto themselves.
In the end, the movie did its job. I got out of the theater, walked to my truck, looked all around me, under my truck and in the back just to make sure that no demon was trying to possess my soul. That's what a good horror film does. It's supposed to make you scared after you leave the theater, after you turn it off. It is meant to stick with you, and Dickerson did it again. If you are a fan of being scared or a fan of scaring your date, then go watch the movie.