During my final day of a horrible virus (Monday) I was browsing the O2 Priority App to see which competition I had lost that week (I did not win one of 20 culinary sets or a luxury weekend for two), to come across an offer from Cineworld for a free ticket to be redeemed the following Thursday.
With the promise of a free film and a chance to extract myself from the misery of my sick-sofa, I swiftly contacted The Boyf and instructed him to download the free ticket code. We briefly discussed which film we’d go see (I proposed What If cause Adam from Girls is in it) and we decided upon Deliver Us from Evil.
Part cop-thriller, part exorcism-horror, Deliver Us from Evil is a curious film. At times, it seems to really break some stereotypes of the genre while at others you’re left laughing when it’s clear you’re supposed to be frozen to the spot.
Obviously, it’s based on a “true story”, aka the memoirs of Ralph Sarchie entitled Beware the Night. As someone who has performed a Ouija board and hand-on-heart believes she contacted her paternal grandmother, I approach this kind of stuff with an open but healthily sceptical mind.
The story is as follows: the scene opens in 2010 in Iraq (kinda felt a bit like it’s too soon to use that as a plot device but whatevz) and some soldiery types are doing some army stuff when they come across an ancient underground bunker that wouldn’t look amiss in early Tomb Raider. The guy filming all this (for army reasons) starts saying “fuck” a lot and the screen goes black.
Present day: we’re with good-but-grizzled cop Sarchie and his police BFF Butler when they get a report of a domestic. It’s not something they would normally go to, but Sarchie’s “radar” (read: plot device) goes off and they attend the scene.
Following this, they’re called to the zoo to track a missing woman who, earlier in the day, threw her toddler into the lion den. While this is going on, we’re introduced to Mendoza (aka Spanish Jon Snow) who, as it turns out, is a priest with a difference, who drinks, smokes and flirts with women.
From then on, the cop and the priest eventually team up to solve a crime case that is just unexplainable unless you bring something else into it… demons.
Some parts of the film are great – there’s a part early on that made me spill a bit of my popcorn in fright, which I am not want to do since it’s so expensive. I also covered by eyes twice because, bro, some of that shit is grizzly.
However, there are times when the lines are so badly delivered by a weak cast of extras that it feels like a below-amateur production. Some stuff is just too easily explained away with a stupid answer (see: radar) and the icing on the shit cake is the major role religion seems to take, primarily in the form of good ole Christianity saving the day against the nasty Iraqi demon.
I hate to make assumptions, but I’m guessing that the vast majority of attendees to a gruesome exorcism-horror aren’t hardcore pro-Christians, so it feels a little preachy but redundant when we’re told to accept God into our hearts, confess our sins and take on the devil.
However, there are some good turns in the cast. Èdgar Ramírez gets better as the film goes on; Eric Bana, who plays our lead, is actually really quite a good actor, and Joel McHale delivers some of the best lines of the film.
A major disappointment came in the form of good-but-grizzled cop’s wife, played by Olivia Munn, who I instantly recognised as Angie in New Girl and, who I hoped, would bring some of that excellency with her from the show. Unfortunately, she was primarily there to comfort her weeping child and chastise Sarchie for being upset about his pretty tough week at work. When she was used as a damsel in distress by the end of the film, I was thoroughly disappointed by what the film had done with an otherwise great actress.
The standout performance, however, was our friendly TV trailer owl. With cries of “ha-ha-hoo” and his habit of rolling about on the floor, his catchphrase has become something of a favourite at home. I have never wished for an owl emoji more.
Overall, it’s not a terrible film which the 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe. If you’re looking for an exorcism-horror with some thriller elements, some gore and a bit of mystery, I’d catch this when it’s on offer for £3 in Asda, or if your boyfriend won’t see What If and you have to compromise on the one not-terrible horror that’s on.
We ended the night with a £1.99 two-piece chicken and chips from KFC. All in all, a pretty fun night.