Sunday, March 1, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Deliver Us from Evil (2014)

Here's the thing about possession movies: in the end, they must be measured against The Exorcist.  In particular, since possession movies typically require an exorcism to close things out, such an ending will always be judged against William Friedkin's epic "The power of Christ compels you" finale.  So, how does Deliver Us from Evil stack up against the scariest movie of all time?  I think it may in fact be the second-best possession movie that I have watched, and I figured that was the ceiling for this movie going in.  First off, we have a couple of capable leads.  Eric Bana does a nice job as a violent cop with an uncanny knack for picking the right (or wrong) cases.  As good as Bana is, he is overshadowed here by Edgar Ramirez as the coolest priest ever to grace the screen, but both roles are well-developed and expertly realized.  Joel McHale turns in a solid performance in a supporting role as Bana's adrenaline-junkie partner (yes, he offers up a lot of wisecracks, some of which are funny), and in doing so he provides us with one of the best fight scenes you're apt to see in a horror movie.  The plot offers up a nice mishmash of thriller and horror elements, and the mood is suitably creepy throughout.  There are few good jump scares to be had and Deliver Us from Evil moves along at a nice pace while still managing to flesh out the characters a bit here and there.  Finally, we get to the exorcism, and I have to give director Scott Derrickson credit for delivering the goods.  It's creative, it's gruesome, and it's very exciting.  It doesn't have the emotional impact or the sheer terror of the The Exorcist's closing reel, but it takes a damn good shot at the title.  Like the movie itself, I feel that it was second only to the scariest movie of all time in that regard.  Don't buy into the "based on actual events" mumbo-jumbo, as it doesn't bear any meaningful resemblance to any of the cases the main character detailed in his book.  Do buy into the movie, however, for it's a gripping frightfest that is both scary and entertaining. 
Serious Bonus Points: the music of The Doors figures into the plot and is sprinkled throughout the picture to great effect.  How could I possibly give this movie a bad review when our wild and crazy priest begins the big exorcism at the end of the movie by quoting Jim Morrison ("Is everybody in?  Is everybody in?  The ceremony is about to begin.")  and "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" plays over the credits.

Final Grade: B+

"Hey you, blogger--come over here and look me in the face
and tell me that I got overshadowed by that fruity priest."

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