'Deliver Us From Evil': What the Critics Are Saying

4:36 PM PST 07/02/2014 by Jenna Robbins

Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez star in the horror thriller about an NYPD cop-turned-demonologist, from 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' director Scott Derrickson.

Following the "based on a true story" formula that writer-director Scott Derrickson harnessed for success in the 2005 horror flick The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil tells the harrowing tale of real-life New York police officer-turned-demonologist Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), who teams up with a rogue priest (Edgar Ramirez) to confront the paranormal forces of evil in the Big Apple.

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Screen Gems and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are aiming for a $20 million opening over the holiday weekend for the horror thriller, also featuring Olivia Munn, Joel McHaleChris Coy, Dorian Missick and Sean Harris.

Read what top critics are saying about Deliver Us From Evil:

The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore says in his review that the combination of detective drama and religious horror work well together, as the "appreciably icky encounters with putrefying corpses and deranged prisoners" help to balance the "sometimes-flimsy cop-movie stuff that surrounds the scares." The standout here is Ramirez’s Mendoza, who steals the show as a former priest "shaggy enough to be the Serpico of exorcists but exuding calm wisdom instead of obsessive determination," which "makes faith look cool."

The religious elements should help propel Deliver’s commercial success by appealing to a Catholic and devout audience, as they "will find Deliver very respectful of their faith, though its nods to religion are genre-appropriate and never preachy enough to alienate the average horror fan." Onscreen, "Derrickson's FX crew careens along the dividing line between excitement and silly bombast, conjuring hurricane-like forces and gory transformations while the holy man attempts to rescue an innocent mortal from his otherworldly tormentors."

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The New York Times Neil Genzlinger agrees that Derrickson and crew "really deliver the creepy goods here, providing an apt climax for as taut and credible a movie involving demonic possession as you’re likely to see." Aside from Ramirez, "Sarchie’s domestic tribulations — Olivia Munn plays his wife — are boilerplate, and a few horror movie tropes, like a screeching cat, turn up, but for the most part Mr. Derrickson and the cast keep things fresh and scary."

The Los Angeles Times Gary Goldstein calls Deliver "a highly intense and effective mash-up of police procedural and horror show" and "an absorbing, at times riveting spookfest." He concludes that a final "big, bloody, utterly mesmerizing exorcism sequence” alone is “worth the price of admission. For what it sets out to do, Evil delivers."

The Boston Globe’s Peter Keough, on the other hand, finds that "though Derrickson offers some new twists on old tricks, and evokes a mood of menace with rainy streets, gloomy interiors, and the transformation of comforting everyday objects into something horrible, the story soon devolves into variations of many movies we have seen before.” Although the film is “one of the better spook shows of the summer,” Derrickson “delivers us from evil all too soon, and lets the generic conventions take possession of his movie.”

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New York Daily News' Elizabeth Weitzman also finds that Deliver delves too far into cliches, saying, "it’s all so familiar, it’s like the horror-movie equivalent of comfort food.... By the time we get to the actual exorcism, it’s not the possession but the predictability that’ll make your head spin." However, she too lauds Ramirez’s performance, as "he elevates the movie by charismatic force, adding crucial shades to the stock role of a renegade religious advisor."

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