Forging a smart little niche of character driven horror thrillers director Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil continues that trend. But while he may have been recently indoctrinated into the superhero family, with the announcement that he’ll helm Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange, his latest film offers an interesting twist on the detective procedural thriller.
Supposedly based on a true story Deliver Us From Evil sees New York cop Sarchie (Eric Bana) tracking a man seemingly responsible for a collection of brutal and chilling crimes. But when he first encounters the criminal in question (Sean Harris) he fears there is more to him than just psychotic tendencies. Meanwhile Jesuit priest Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) believes Sarchie is destined to a higher calling but only if he can survive this chilling test.
Deliver Us From Evil starts solid, setting out an interesting character, played with a swaggering yet serious tone by Bana, before taking us on an atmospheric investigation into the unknown. The visuals are straight out of David Fincher’s Se7en, all torches cutting through dark basements and rain pelting every outside location going.
Derrickson juxtaposes the grime of the crimes with a light and enjoyable banter between Bana and his two partners, Ramirez always a reliable screen presence and Community’s Joe McHale offering some enjoyable one-liners. But the true strength is often fleeting as Bana struggles with his calling versus wanting to spend time with his wife, in the form of an ethereal Olivia Munn, and daughter. Alas this subplot is only really every touched upon in order to set up a fairly predictable final act.
As such Derrickson’s tension building is always engaging for the first two thirds of the film before the finale, which was building nicely to something original, feels a little clichéd and done to death in films Deliver Us From Evil was neatly sidestepping. Characters come and go without much cause and the end ‘battle’ feels anticlimactic when it should have been epic.
A successful attempt and seamlessly fusing a cop thriller with real chills and horror Deliver Us From Evil showcases Derrickson’s smart storytelling and rich characters but lacks a truly jaw-dropping final punch.