Film review: Deliver Us From Evil (15)

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Based on the book Beware The Night by retired NYPD police officer Ralph Sarchie, Deliver Us From Evil is a supernatural horror about Sarchie’s real-life encounters with the forces of darkness on the streets of New York.

Great swathes of Scott Derrickson’s film are hard to swallow, especially scenes inside the bedroom of Sarchie’s cherubic daughter, who becomes a prime target for malevolent retribution.

“I think it’s ridiculous to blame invisible powers for the things people do,” remarks the sceptical lead character, echoing our concerns.

However, the director and co-writer Paul Harris Boardman treat the source material with utmost seriousness and expect us to do the same.

Derrickson is well versed in the tropes of the genre, having previously made The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Sinister starring Ethan Hawke.

He engineers some mildly creepy shocks between set pieces, culminating in a camera-shaking showdown between good and evil that leaves many questions unanswered.

The film opens in night-time Iraq with two soldiers Tratner (Chris Coy) and Santino (Sean Harris) descending nervously into an underground lair, which could conceal the enemy.

A live night-vision feed from a camera affixed to Tratner’s helmet cuts out and we hear blood-curdling screams.

Moving forward three years, Detective Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) patrols his south Bronx beat with thrill-seeking partner Butler (Joel McHale).

Dedicated to his soul-destroying job, Sarchie finds it hard to leave behind the stresses of the day when he returns home to his wife Jen (Olivia Munn) and daughter Christina (Lulu Wilson).

He is infamous in the department for his sixth sense - he instinctively knows which emergency calls to respond to and which to leave to the rest of the squad.

In the space of a single night, Sarchie answer two calls: a domestic dispute involving Iraq war veteran Tratner and an infanticide at the city zoo committed by a disturbed mother (Olivia Horton).

CCTV footage reveals she was spurred on by a hooded figure, who turns out to be Santino.

As the two cops investigate these connected incidents, they cross paths with Spanish priest Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), who claims that a demonic presence is responsible for the bloodshed.

Sceptical at first, Sarchie witnesses horrific visions, which suggest that Mendoza might be telling the truth.

As the detective edges closer to the horrifying truth, he endangers not only himself and Butler but also his wife and child.

Deliver Us From Evil unfolds at a consistent, steady pace, opening Sarchie’s bloodshot eyes to a world of unspoken horror.

Bana is suitably gruff in a two-dimensional and largely unsympathetic role but he doesn’t have sufficient screen time with Munn and Wilson to convince us to invest in the family’s wellbeing.

Harris is genuinely unsettling as the possessed antagonist, whose presence lights the fuse on blood-spattered madness.

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