Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Deliver Us from Evil

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Deliver them from evil but deliver me a pizza...I'm sorry, I really had nothing else to put here.

Deliver Us from Evil – 2 out of 5

Ever since those liars victims of the Amityville house told the world their story and said it was based on a “actual events,” Hollywood has been in love with the concept of selling supernatural horror films as pseudo-reenactments. Recently, this trend has been exploding and literally 9 out of every 10 horror movies that come out are being hailed as “based on a true story.” Sure, the movies take huge liberties with these supposed “actual events” and, more often than not (like with this film), the “true story” part means they just took some real people and put them in a clusterfuck of a demon invasion but even with these liberties and the fact that the “actual events” part is nearly 100% bullshit, sometimes they are capable of being very entertaining and, occasionally, scary. Sadly, Deliver Us from Evil was not one of those.
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Any parent who buys this stuff animal to put in their child's room is probably
not hunted by evil but is evil incarnate.

New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is very dedicated to his job and dedicated to the point that he pretty much ignores his wife (Olivia Munn) and his child. One night, he and his partner Butler (Joel McHale, for some reason), come across a crazy woman who attempted to murder her own baby at the local zoo. As Sarchie digs deeper, he soon finds that three vets from Iraq discovered something sinister and were possessed by a demon and their supernatural possession is spreading like an infection. Now, Sarchie must team with an unorthodox priest named Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez) to try and stop the evil.
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Even McHale looks like he's questioning the casting decisions in this film.

After a lifetime of watching horror films, I’ve pretty much burned out my ability to feel fear when I’m watching them. Or, it’s possible, that horror films haven’t been good for the last 20 years and I’m just saying it’s my fault that they don’t resonate with me. Either way, it’s rare for a horror film to raise my heart rate or even make me feel nervous about an incoming scare. Delivery Us from Evil is one of those prime examples of a film that wastes its potential of creating a fertile breeding ground of true, sleep-depriving horror…and it’s not even a “found footage” film.
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"There's probably scary stuff over there...but we'll just stay here and wait for
a bad joke from McHale."

Even though the film failed to scare me, there were a lot of things I felt worked extremely effectively in the film. For example, it was directed by the dude who gave us Sinister (Scott Derrickson) and that movie creeped me the fuck out. It was clear that Derrickson could have succeeded in creating another great spooky atmosphere in this film and, for the most part, he did. Like in Sinister, he utilized light and shadow like he was the horror director version of Bob Ross and made the film look absolutely gorgeous (which is a weird compliment for a scary movie). Every scene where something scary had the potential to happen looked fantastic and would make me think something truly horrifying was about to arrive on screen. Derrickson knew exactly how to light a sequence so that you saw just enough but also had enough darkness to obscure the objects and horrors so that you could barely see them. The only downfall was these great sequences of tension building and tone establishment was ruined by a weak, predictable “jump” scare that only serves as an immediate justification for horror and does nothing to create true, deep terror that builds in the entire body (and usually stores in the bowels in order to literally scare the shit out of you).
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So, are demon possessed people completely incapable of stealth and subtlety?

Another thing I really enjoyed about Deliver Us from Evil was the use of sound. Much like how Scott Derrickson made light and shadow his trained monkeys to do his bidding, he made the sound in the film something that was almost a character all by itself. Nearly every second of the film is filled with sound that does nothing but enhance the atmosphere that Derrickson was creating. Whether it be the strange use of the music from The Doors that is kinda thrown into the story or the use of quiet static and children laughing or even the use of deafening cacophony of maddening noise, all of these elements worked in concert with the visuals to create a landscape that was completely unnerving…which would all get ruined by a cheap, “Oh look, a screeching cat in a closet” jump scare (and I’m not making a joke about the old cliché about having a throw away scare that involved a cat jumping out of the closet, there is literally a scare that involves a screeching cat in the closet. Aim for the skies with those scares, movie).
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"The demon made me jump...also, the demon maxed out all my credit cards
before it made me jump."

Finally, I really enjoyed Eric Bana in his role as Ralph Sarchie. His performance was quite strong even though he was playing the formulaic horror film stock character that begins as a skeptic and ends a true believer because of the shit he’s seen (it would be cool to see a horror film where the protagonist believes right away only to find out that there was a scientific explanation all along and his belief that the supernatural caused the disturbance was wrong and he ends up being a skeptic before the credits roll). Unlike the usual “I don’t believe that nonsense until the end of the film” character, Bana made this character’s transition from non-believer to believer a bit more realistic than most horror films go. Not to mention, his interactions with Édgar Ramírez made for some strong scenes in an otherwise boring film—also, Ramírez was excellent in his role as the cigarette smoking/hard drink drinking priest Mendoza.
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Sarchie is covering his crotch like he's worried the demon will possess his

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Man possessed or someone on their way to
The Gathering?
While this film looked, sounded and was acted great, I just couldn’t get into it because (and I already mentioned this) it wasn’t scary. The film’s story was more focused on seeing Sarchie investigate than they were seeing scary things come across the screen. While it makes sense that we have a cop investigating issues and it might make sense that this dynamic might explain why the film only delivers on easy scares (because they might have forgot to add the scary stuff, I guess), however, it ultimately made the film very dry and boring for me. With no scares in sight to grab my attention and a story that just meanders around a lot of investigation, I was in more fear of falling asleep than I was in having the piss scared out of my bladder.
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Is it a requirement that you must look like you're listening to "Turn Down For What"
when doing an exorcism?

One of the worse things about the movie and one of the most unnecessary and entertainment killers for me was the comedic relief that was brought in by Joel McHale. While it isn’t uncommon to have some funny stuff happen in your scary stuff (I felt Insidious 2: Electric Boogaloo did this quite well), the bad one-liners and punch lines did nothing but ruin the tone and atmosphere that Derrickson had so painstakingly created. It was like you were watching a great drama filled with human emotion and then they end the scene with a guy getting hit with a pie in the face. It felt out of place with the direction of the story and, most of all, it felt forced because they had Joel McHale in the role and not a dramatic actor who just so happens to utter a funny line of dialogue from the script.  While I enjoy McHale in funny stuff, he just felt out of place in this film.
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Seriously, why Joel McHale?

While Deliver Us from Evil has a great teaser trailer that promised heart-pounding creeps, the film ends up wasting the potential and all the care Derrickson put into the look of the film for cheap, uncreative scares that did little to make me even fidget in my seat. Movies like The Conjuring can make the whole “based on a true story” gimmick work (even if you feel the whole possession, demons, ghosts, and the idea of finding a Conservative who doesn’t hate some minority group to be complete fiction) and that film felt authentic and it was easy to lose yourself in the realistic looking (as realistic as hauntings can be to a skeptic like me) events but Deliver Us from Evil felt embellished and completely made-up. Nothing about the unfolding story felt like it could have happened and it felt so phony that even the character of Sarchie (who is 100% a real dude) comes off looking like he was the creation of some script writer. Overall, the film delivers a weak story and scares that match the generic horror film title. In the end, I guess I’ll stick with the documentary of the same name because that film was much better…and scarier, too, because it was about a priest who molested kids and went unpunished. If that shit doesn’t scare you then what the hell is wrong with you?

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