A cop and a rabbi are touring the streets. Sounds like the beginning of a joke doesn't it, but no it is the focus of the plot of one of this weekend's releases. Now being 4th of July weekend you might expect a comedy, a heroic feature, or some patriotic film. However, not once did I expect a horror film to open up the month of July. Today I start my review trilogy with Deliver Us From Evil, starring Eric Bana and Édgar Ramírez. Let's get started.
Horror movies have gone through all types of plots and ways to scare us. Where they once had plot and character driven stories, modern horrors have abused technology and makeup to bombard viewers with predictable scares, unlimited gore, and sacrificing plot. Amidst the flood of thrillers though shine some treasures that do the genre justice and create a horrifying tale worth watching again. For me this movie can be added to those treasures for director Scott Derrickson and team have created a horror movie I've been waiting for. Deliver Us From Evil is a supernatural horror that packs suspense and scares throughout the entire movie, utilizing the art of creepiness with the surprise scares mixed in. Through the use of shadows and light, combined with the ash like filter, Derrickson's cinematography is one of the biggest components to providing fear. As our heroes work their way through the case at hand, they navigate dark filled corridors and rooms where light is robbed. While the failure of electricity is a bit comical, as it seems every thing has the ability to cause lights to blow out, it robs the comfort daylight provides us when watching a horror movie. In addition to robbing us of that safety zone, the lack of light also makes one's imagination fill in the details to what lies beneath until the big reveal. Something else that helps increase the terror factor is the realistic setting of a populated city, that defies the usual isolated or extreme settings we've seen time and time again. Of course horror movies also have a way of setting you up for the scare, helping one predict when something is going to jump out at you and this movie is no exception.
Yet scares aren't the only thing that a horror movie needs, but a plot to build those scares around, or else you could save yourself money and have someone scare you at home. For this film the story is quite well put together, diverting from the path of some mythological creature, or deranged serial killer who are the focus of most modern thrillers. Instead the plot is a combination of a cop story and a supernatural horror, blending the best of both worlds into one tale that leads one down a rabbit hole of unfathomable evil. Though there are a few unexplained aspects, there is enough detail and twists to this tale that give the story some bite as Detective Sarchie uncovers the truth and faces his proverbial demons. That's right, you heard me, there is actually some character development in this horror movie, shaping a hero that isn't some dimwitted blonde or muscle bound jock. Instead Sarchie is a relatable character, who has flaws and weaknesses that make he and his company vulnerable to the temptations of the dark forces at work. Even the supporting characters are not immune to the threats of damage and death, leaving one uncertain just when they will kill someone off, and who is the next victim. Speaking of death, it's the popular trend to make victims unbelievably dumb, so that they walk into some elaborate death trap that often turns out bloody. Not the case in this film, well minus the blood, but they avoid the fake, cheesy deaths we've come to know in the genre.
Despite all the positives this film has, there are a few factors to mention that take away from the movie. Number one is the gore, which yes we all know is going to be present in this movie. However, this film swaps out the animated blood for a more realistic portrayal of decay and maiming. Makeup really did their job in this movie, capturing famine, exhaustion, scarring, and other mutilation associated with possession down to the letter. Unfortunately this creates some rather disturbing shots that are not for those with weak constitutions. A second weakness comes in the fact that some of the more intense scenes are a bit overacted or drawn out, again crossing the border of ridiculousness at times. In particular is an exorcism scene, which has so much intensity at first, but gets dragged out a little too far for my tastes. Perhaps they were going for real suspense, or trying to give the demon some more bite, but was it necessary probably not. Even a few of the screams and creature moans were bit humorous, not so much the sounds, but seeing the actors try to make elaborate facial gestures.
Overall Deliver Us From Evil, is one of the better horror movies I've seen in a long time. A great storyline for a horror movie, with realistic tendencies and a decent character development, really impressed me in this film. The fact that it has some mystery and detective work involved keeps the suspense going, and blending surprise with creepiness is something I love in a movie. Yes there is some overacting, and a few rushed developments that need some tweaking, but I can live with that for what I got. So what do I give this intensive and graphic horror movie? The score is below:
Crime/Horror/Thriller: 8.5 Movie Overall: 7.5
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