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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Deliver Us From Evil (Blu-ray)
Deliver Us From Evil (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // R // October 28, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $40.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 21, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Written and directed by Scott Derrickson, the same man who brought us The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Sinister, 2014's Deliver Us From Evil is inspired by (as opposed to being based on) the ‘real life' events of an NYPD officer named Ralph Sarchie, portrayed in the movie by Eric Bana. When the film opens, he's giving mouth to mouth to a dead infant found in a back alley somewhere in the Bronx. He's unable to resuscitate the child. From there he and his partner, Butler (Joel McHale) answer a domestic violence call from dispatch. Sarchie has what he calls a ‘radar' (basically a gut instinct) while Butler is an adrenaline junkie who tends to follow the older cop's lead. They arrive at the apartment and it quickly turns sour as the beaten woman cowers in fear of her husband who attacks the cops. This leads to an even more unusual call to the nearby Bronx Zoo where a woman has tossed her child over the fence into the ravine near the lion display. Sarchie heads in to check out the scene and is puzzled by the presence of a dark figure in a hoodie who appeared to have been painting the wall of the exhibit in the middle of the night.

As Sarchie and Butler start putting together the pieces of this odd puzzle the wind up uncovering some events that tie together the event at the zoo, the domestic violence case and a dead body found in the basement of an Eastern European family who believe their house to be possessed by some sort of evil spirit. It turns out that the woman from the zoo, Jane (Olivia Horten), was under the care of a Jesuit Priest named Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez) who tells Sarchia, a lapsed Catholic, that there's more to her case than he realizes but the street wise cop isn't having any of it. When the evil that has affected all parties starts affecting his home life with his wife (Olivia Munn) and daughter Christina (Lulu Wilson), Sarchie starts to wonder if Mendoza is right after all.

At almost two hours in length Deliver Us From Evil does feel a little long but it is a well-paced movie that manages to entertain and hold our attention despite some of the hard to miss flubs that it takes along the way. The performances here are quite good, with Bana doing a fine job of playing both the tough cop and the caring father frustrated by a case that is taking a lot more out of him than he'd initially thought it would. As he gets deeper and deeper into this and, through his interactions with Mendoza, he starts wrestling with his faith Bana crafts a character we can get behind and also sympathize and even relate to. We like him and we want him to get the bad guys and sort all of this out. Likewise, Ramírez plays his unorthodox priest character well. As Mendoza himself admits, he's no saint and no stranger to sin. He's a reformed junkie who has relapsed more than once. He drinks and he smokes and he is nothing if not worldly, but this humanizes him and makes the relationship he strikes up with Sarchie more believable for it. All of this works towards making an otherwise ridiculously over the top ending a bit less over the top.

The supporting efforts are decent enough here too. Munn is cute and likeable as the mother and if she isn't given as much to do she does fine with the part. Joel McHale plays his character well but his character is a poorly written stereotype so he doesn't stand out as much. He does handle himself well in the action scenes though, and while one of those action scenes (in which he goes head to head with one of the possessed) feels more like it should have come from a Jean-Claude Van Damme film than a possession themed horror film, he both looks and acts the part.

The movie's scares come from a mix of creeping dread and loud jump scares. The atmosphere that the movie builds is effective while the jump scares, as cheap as they may be and as obvious as they may be, are at least fun. There are few tonal shifts that hurt the picture and an unusual reliance on references to Jim Morrison and The Doors that feel crammed into the movie and add nothing outside of some unnecessary pop culture references to the picture that are distracting more than anything else, but this is decent entertainment. As such, the picture is obviously flawed but its strengths are there. It's well shot, features some great makeup effects and sound design and isn't afraid to play towards what its R-rating allows for. Not perfect by a long shot but the end result is an entertaining horror/cop movie hybrid with some great makeup effects and a couple of truly creepy set pieces. Look past the fact that it is occasionally derivative and interested in style over substance and you can have a good time with this.

The Blu-ray:

Deliver Us From Evil arrives on Blu-ray from Sony framed at 2.40.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks excellent. Black levels are inky and deep but never at the expense of shadow detail. Crush and compression artifacts never factor in here and the image, shot digitally, is pristine. The movie is pretty dark in terms of its color scheme as much of it takes place not only at night but inside rundown old buildings and back alleys but all of this is reproduced accurately. The few brighter scenes in the movie look quite good too. Detail is excellent not just in close up shots where you can count the whiskers on Bana's face but in medium and long distance shots too, allowing you to notice the decay on the corpse of a crucified cat or the nail marks on the floorboards of a home. The image is free of edge enhancement, noise reduction and haloing and all in all, the movie looks excellent on Blu-ray

Sound:

Equally impressive is the English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. This mix is insanely aggressive in spots, using every channel in your setup to blast away at you during the more action oriented scenes or unnerve you during the bits where a possessed inmate is ‘interviewed' at the hospital with the sounds of unearthly growling and the like. Levels are really nicely balanced and the LFE is very strong but well directed in that it doesn't bury the dialogue. The score sounds good too, spread around nicely within the mix to good effect. The quieter moments feature nice ambient noise that helps to fill things in and build suspense while, as you'd guess for a brand new film, the audio is free of any trace of hiss or distortion. This is a reference quality track. An alternate French language DTS-HD 5.1 mix is included as is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. Removable subtitles are supplied in English SDH, French and Spanish.

Extras:

Director Scott Derrickson, who also wrote the script, kicks the extras off with an interesting commentary track that does a pretty good job of explaining what drew him to this project by discussing Ralph Sarchie's real-life experiences and book and some of what adapting that to the big screen entailed. Additionally he covers the importance of shooting on location in New York City, casting the film and working with the actors, some of the subtleties in the movie that you might not notice upon your first viewing, the effects work used in the movie, some of the themes that run through it and quite a bit more. It's an active talk and Derrickson is rarely at a loss for words here, covering all his bases and delivering a pretty engaging dissection of his work.

From there we get a quartet of featurettes, starting with the fourteen minute Illuminating Evil in which we get to learn about the real life Ralph Sarchie by way of some interview clips with the man wherein he talks about his exploits and how they lead to the feature. Some decent behind the scenes footage and an exploration of the film's themes is worked in alongside the interview clips to make for a fairly interesting piece. Deliver Us From Demons runs just over eight minutes and it talks about Sean Harris' work as Santino in the movie and the makeup effects that were required to create that character. This is followed by an eight minute piece called The Two Sergeants that talks about Derrickson's intentions to create a movie based on the Sarchie's experiences rather than try to craft a more realistic interpretation of what he went through. We also learn about Eric Bana's style and character here. The fourth and final featurette is The Demon Detective and it once again brings Sarchie himself in front of the camera to talk about his work as a demonologist and what all of that entails. It's just shy of ten minutes in length.

Aside from that we get previews for a few unrelated Sony properties, animated menus and chapter selection. Inside the disc is a paper insert with a download code for a digital copy of the movie and the case and disc that accompany it all fit inside a slick cardboard slipcover.

Final Thoughts:

Deliver Us From Evil isn't a masterpiece but it's a fun horror picture that offers up enough in the way of some good performances, interesting ideas and solid effects to help us overlook some fairly obvious missteps. It'll hold your attention and keep you entertained, if nothing else. As to the merits of the Blu-ray itself, the transfer is excellent and the lossless audio even better. Throw in some solid extras and this turns out to be worth seeing more for fans of possession horror than a more general audience, but if you fall into that target audience, consider it mildly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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