Deliver Us from Evil review: Just what possessed them?

Deliver Us From Evil
    
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cert: 16
Genre: Horror
Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Chris Coy
Running Time: 1 hr 58 mins

So, apparently this utterly ghastly horror film is based on true events. Yeah, and my poop smells of pansies. Actually, in one sense,

Deliver Us From Evil

really does reference a documented occurrence. From its Middle-Eastern beginning to its liturgical ending, the picture makes no effort to conceal its debts to

The Exorcist


and that film was, indeed, inspired by a reported incidence of possession. So, we’ll give them that.

The increasingly misused Eric Bana (once the next Brando) plays a New York City cop with an uncanny knack for locating danger and its sources. The film begins with our hero encountering everyday horrors on the streets of the Bronx: Babies are murdered; women are battered. These all-too common catastrophes are, however, taking on a more than usually macabre quality. If you've ever been on a murder-mystery weekend, you'll know the sort of thing. Electric lights flicker and candles refuse to catch. Worse than that, various demons dressed as bits of Slipknot have started hanging around the zoo.

Poor old Sean Harris is, yet again, asked to play the most dangerous of the sub-Biblical monsters. It seems as is something devilish happened to him in Iraq and he has been compelled to visit the Satanic apocalypse on the five boroughs.

Much of the film fits to standard hokum templates. False scares pile up and eventually lead to attempts at the real thing. It ends up with a reaffirmation of faith cornier than those in any happy-clappy Christian propaganda.

The film's one distinguishing feature is a hilariously misguided attempt to weave the songs of The Doors into the horror. Why not the Archies or the Lovin' Spoonful? Oh, yes. Because The Doors are deep and meaningful. Watching the final catastrophic exorcism, the temptation to paraphrase Woody Allen in Annie Hall becomes irresistible. Those possessed people were so really brave, having to listen to all that Jim Morrison. The awful rhymes. The wretched allusions. The horror, the horror.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist