Count on fireworks this weekend, and not just because of the Fourth of July, but also because of the release of the explosive new horror film, "Deliver Us From Evil."
Directed by Scott Derrickson ("Sinister," and Marvel's upcoming "Doctor Strange") and starring Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez, "Deliver Us From Evil" tells the story of police officers in the Bronx investigating forces of evil. Allegedly based on a true story, "Deliver Us From Evil" isn't exactly winning critics over; while some reviews are on board with the exorcism thriller's brand of terror, others find it a run-of-the-mill story that feels more like an episode of "Law and Order" than a feature film.
Read on for a selection of "Deliver Us From Evil" reviews:
"Set in the South Bronx, 'Deliver Us From Evil' is a variation on a theme of 'The Exorcist,' complete with a hardened police investigator (Sarchie, played by Aussie actor Eric Bana), who has a 'radar' for evil, and a flawed but dedicated young Catholic priest (Venezuelan Edgar Ramirez of 'Carlos the Jackal'). The action begins in 2010 in Iraq, where three Marines in combat discover an underground chamber and two of them explore it to their regret. (Iraq also figures in the opening of 'The Exorcist.') Back in the South Bronx in 2013, Sarchie and partner Butler (a very good Joel McHale), a misfit in a Red Sox cap, investigate a domestic disturbance and come across one of the Marines (Chris Coy) and a hellish scene at his home. What comes next involves demonic possession, a Persian-Latin mural that is a gate to hell, the music of The Doors, a crazy woman (a go-for-broke Olivia Horton) who throws her toddler into a moat, monkeys going ape and the lions, tigers and bears of the Bronx Zoo. Oh my." — James Verniere, The Boston Herald
"Eric Bana ('Lone Survivor') plays Sarchie as a humorless workaholic, while Joel McHale (NBC's 'Community') is his irreverent partner, Butler. The actors work well together, especially during the film's first act, an enjoyably creepy ride-along through alleys, basements and, rather delightfully, the Bronx Zoo. The movie's stealth star, though, is Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramírez ('Zero Dark Thirty'), who plays Mendoza as a street-wise priest with a glamorously checkered past. Mendoza is a fiction (Derrickson co-wrote the script with Paul Harris Boardman), but Ramírez gives him such rock-star mystique — he's like Lou Reed with a crucifix — that you'll wish he were real." — Rafer Guzmán, Newsday
The Bad News
"You can understand the studio exec greenlighting the picture: everyone loves New York City cop stories, and people can't get enough of 'true' demonic possession. Put the two together and you're bound to have a hit. The box office tally may eventually prove that to be true, but what director Scott Derrickson brings to the screen has all the depth, intelligence and style of a typical 'Law & Order' episode crossed with a season of 'Ghost Hunters.' This is television-level moviemaking top to bottom, from its preposterous premise, scenery-chomping performances, idiotic sound cues and force-fed jump-scares. 'Deliver Us From Evil' delivers formula, and in a formulaic fashion." — Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
The Worse News
"Somewhere buried deep beneath the murky photography, lazy mirror gags, sound-based jump scares, and deeply unnecessary cruelty to cats that make up the bulk of the dire 'Deliver Us From Evil' is a not-uninteresting story about an on-the-edge cop hunting down a group of PTSD-suffering former soldiers. Not to say that movie would be any good, but it would certainly be better than this rote exorcism-is-real claptrap." — Kyle Anderson, Entertainment Weekly
The Final Word
"Not to damn a movie with faint praise, but the horror flick 'Deliver Us From Evil' is a perfectly workmanlike piece of filmmaking. It's pretty much the cinematic epitome of the word. The movie is never boring. The atmosphere is decidedly unsettling and a viewer will jump a few times. Even the acting is fairly solid. Still, the overall effect is sort of blah. You won't hate yourself for seeing it, but you won't remember it in a week, either." — Randy Cordova, Arizona Republic