'Deliver Us From Evil' needs more scares

Eric Bana plays Sergeant Ralph Sarchie in a story of demonic possession in New York City. (HANDOUT)

Eric Bana plays Sergeant Ralph Sarchie in a story of demonic possession in New York City. (HANDOUT)

Rating

3 Stars3/5

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:47 PM ET

People go to scary movies to be scared right?

And while I definitely had more than a few tense hands over the eyes moments in the new demon-fighting movie, Deliver Us From Evil, I was expecting to really jump out of my seat given the involvement of frightmaster writer-director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister).

Seriously, the immensely talented Derrickson sets the bar high: I couldn’t bring myself to see Emily Rose as the trailers were so scary and Sinister haunts me to this day.

Still, Deliver Us From Evil has a great premise and two strong male leads (The Hulk’s Eric Bana and Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez of acclaimed TV mini-series Carlos the Jackal fame) so there is definitely sequel potential if the film does well at the box office.

The two actors have great chemistry, and let’s face it, are REALLY easy on the eyes so the duo fighting future demons on other cases together is a no brainer. (Or maybe a TV spinoff?)

Based on the 2001 book, Beware the Night, by real-life tough guy-Bronx sergeant-turned-demonologist Ralph Sarchie, the movie find Bana’s character and his wise-cracking partner (Community and The Soup’s Joel McHale, who is a longtime friend of Derrickson's in case you’re wondering what he’s doing in this movie) hooking up with Ramirez’s renegade (read: sexy!) priest after they find themselves investigating a series of strange occurrences in their neighborhood that may or may not be demonic possessions.

“As I cop, I’ve seen some horrible things but nothing that can’t be explained by human nature,” the dismissive Bana’s Sarchie tells Ramirez.

To which the soulful priest responds: “There are two types of evil in this life, Officer Sarchie. Secondary evil, the evil that men do. And primary evil, which is something else entirely.”

And I think you know WHO he is talking about.

McHale brings some much needed levity to the proceedings – “Do you think she’s single?” he quips about one woman babbling incoherently and frothing at the mouth who they bring into the precinct to investigate – while The Newsroom’s Olivia Munn (as Sarchie’s wife Jen) is underutilized here.

Frankly, when the evil presence starts visiting the Sarchies at home, specifically daughter Christina’s bedroom late at night (you’ll never look at a stuff owl the same way again), that’s when the real nightmares begin so more of those home scenes might have ratcheted up the fright factor.

Filmed on location in lots of cool, dark locations including the Bronx Zoo (the first since 1980’s Altered States apparently) during the rainiest June in recorded history, Deliver Us From Evil certainly looks appropriately moody and atmospheric.

But when the music of The Doors causes you to laugh out loud instead of add to the tension, there is definitely a disconnect.

Riders on the Storm may have been a better choice over Break On Through?

Just sayin’.

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson

jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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