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Faith Meets Fear in Deliver Us from Evil

Faith Meets Fear in <i>Deliver Us from Evil</i>

DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: July 2, 2014
Rating: R
Genre: Horror
Run Time: 118 minutes
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale,

"There are two types of evil in this life, Officer Sarchie," Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) says darkly. "Secondary evil, the evil men do. And primary evil, which is something else entirely."

Those ominous words set the tone for Deliver Us from Evil, the latest film to be directed by famed, horror-savant, Scott Derrickson. Like 2013’s The Conjuring, Deliver Us from Evil is reportedly inspired by true events, and drags its viewers (often kicking and screaming) into the terrifying realm of demonic possession. The movie is a three way thriller/horror/Christian hybrid, part of a new breed of films designed to bring in a wide range of viewers, and it certainly succeeds in the first two categories. If you enjoy cold sweats, pulsing adrenalin, and sleeping with the lights on for a few nights, then Deliver Us from Evil certainly, um, delivers. Whether the movie will appeal to a faith-based audience however, remains to be seen.

The story begins in the Bronx, where Officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana, Lone Survivor) and his partner, Butler (Joel McHale, TV's Community) begin investigating a series of events involving forces they cannot explain. Sarchie’s search eventually leads him to Father Joe Mendoza (Ramirez) an unorthodox Jesuit priest who believes the crimes to be the result of demonic influence. Though Sarchie is initially skeptical, the dark presence not only threatens to swallow him, but his family as well. Eventually, Sarchie begins to rediscover his faith, and with the help of Father Mendoza, strikes back at the evil opposing him. But will it be enough to save the people he loves?

For people who enjoy a good scare, Deliver Us from Evil is a treat for the senses. Grating music, shadowy settings, and plenty of sudden shocks will have you leaping from your seat every five minutes. The actors are also exceptionally suited to their roles. Bana owns his performance as a hardened cop, displaying some impressive emotional versatility in a character that could easily have been a walking stereotype. Unfortunately, his efforts are usually upstaged by McHale, who brings much a needed levity to the film as the sly and sarcastic Butler.

As for Ramirez, his portrayal of the wayward Father Mendoza helps bring the film together. He and Bana share great on-screen chemistry, which is good since their characters spend a large portion of the movie together. Though they're supposed to be an unlikely duo, their partnership comes across so naturally it's hard to pinpoint where it really begins. Easily one of the best scenes in the movie is when the two discuss God and sin in a local bar, and here is where the Christian viewers will no doubt be torn. How should a faith-based audience respond to a movie like Deliver Us from Evil?

On one hand, the movie contains some very dark material. Demonic influence is not something to take lightly, and Christian viewers will have reservations about seeing a film that toes the line so closely. On the other hand, there are some very deep and profound messages about God and the nature of sin woven into the dialogue. So much so, that there are times when the audience almost forgets it’s watching a horror film. Inevitably, there will be proponents for both sides.

Perhaps the best thing Christians can do is rely on their personal discernment. Deliver Us from Evil has enough fright for those looking for a good scare. Anyone wanting to talk theology could probably find a better film, but there are nuggets available if you're willing to dig. Either way, Deliver Us from Evil has enough to leave its shaken audience asking more about God.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Father Mendoza admits to being in Narcotics Anonymous. He also drinks and smokes. Characters are shown drinking beer. Talk of drugs. A scene in a bar.
  • Language/Profanity: The F-word is used frequently. The lords name is taken in vain. Some sexual references. A few S-words.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity: Father Mendoza reveals he had an affair with a woman which resulted in an abortion.
  • Violence/Gore: The movie has a heavy amount of both, viewer discretion is advised. Men are shown shooting guns. A dead body is found and bursts open. Dead animals are seen in an apartment. In one scene it is implied Sarchie is holding a dead baby. Men fight with bottles and knives. A gaping head wound is shown. People scratch at rocks with bloody fingers. A woman kills her doctor then commits suicide. A woman throws her toddler into a ravine. A character bleeds to death. Windows explode. Animals fight each other.
  • Religion/Morals:Demonic possession is a big part of the storyline. Characters talk a lot about God and his work. A discussion about saints. An exorcism is shown. Catholic symbols are prevalent. Several crosses. Sarchie confesses his sins and Father Mendoza absolves him. A baptism is shown. Prayers are shown.

*Published 7/2/2014