While not expecting to be leaping and cowering whilst watching Deliver Us from Evil, it was disappointing to see that Hollywood still suffers from repetitive idiocy when promoting horror films, in fact the title of this Sony “scary movie” could have been Deliver Us from Poor Marketing. This technique of “overselling” the scares of a horror film lets everyone down and essentially sabotages any chance the movie might have had in winning audiences over.
Based upon the book Beware the Night, now titled Deliver Us from Evil, by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool the story is a “factual” retelling, apparently, of Sarchie’s introduction to the devilish side of New York. However the “truth” of the story is a little ruined by the standard Hollywood disclaimer at the end of the film, the old “This is a fictional story…”
Sony’s attempt at dodging potential lawsuits aside, the book itself has gotten good reviews. The film, on IMDb has a score of 6.5 and after watching the feature nearly two weeks after its initial release, the score is not too surprising. Perhaps the atmosphere in the theatre lacked that little something extra by being practically deserted.
The most annoying thing about the film was its misguided marketing campaign. It is not clear just which film began the gimmick of showing audience members, who all appear to be competing for the overacting award of the year, shrieking, cowering, covering their eyes, jumping in their seats, et al, while watching what must be the scariest film ever.
On a sidenote, the games industry has picked up on this ludicrous practice and they should stop.
It has certainly been used repeatedly and in most cases this approach to publicising films should lead to lawsuits for false advertising. Deliver Us from Evil is actually a decent horror film. Regardless of whether the film was poorly marketed, something that can destroy a movie’s chances of success, it was still entertaining. However it would have been nice if the powers that be could have delivered us, the audience, from the poor and misleading marketing strategy.
Eric Bana (Star Trek, Deadfall) was great as police sergeant Ralph Sarchie. Perhaps the only complaint was that the actor sounded a lot like Jackie Estacado in the video game The Darkness. Of course Kirk Acevedo had the honors of voicing that character but, Bana certainly sounded like the doomed mafia hit man from the game.
Édgar Ramírez (The Counselor, Zero Dark Thirty) filled the shoes of the eclectic Jesuit priest Mendoza very adequately. Sean Harris, who certainly has come a long way from his Creep days delivered a scary depiction of his latest “baddie.” It must be said though that the actor certainly looked more like that old “underground” character in his portrayal of Santino the possessed soldier, and less like his doomed geographer in Prometheus.
Kudos need to be given to Bana’s sidekick, Butler, aka Joel McHale (Community, Ted). His grinning, and quipping, performance as the second banana alongside Sarchie made it feel like the two men had really been partners for a long time.
The film looks good in terms of cinematography and the lighting is suitably dark, as is the subject matter. Sadly, the film was not as terrifying as advertised with the only real “jump” moments occurring because of animals and not demons.
The movie is creepy enough with a large amount of foreboding. It is scary to a degree, but certainly not terrifying. It is more like an “amped up” cop film, or like IMDb categorizes it, a crime/horror/thriller. Even the exorcism itself is not as scary the 1973 film The Exorcist .
Still Deliver Us from Evil, could have delivered us from poor marketing and given the audience a must better experience. There must have been quite a number of horror fans who were very disappointed at the lack of screams, jumps and watching through fingers. Potential viewers would be better off waiting for the DVD or to watch it via streaming.
By Michael Smith
AMC Rainbow Promenade 10