It could have been The Exorcist meets End of Days
Deliver Us From Evil Review
Blending cop thriller with demonic possession horror, Deliver Us From Evil has some nice ideas going for it, but ultimately feels a little hampered by a desire to be realistic.Indeed, it’s not a wholly original concept, and might make some think back to the days of Arnie trying to give us a more grizzled anti-hero offering in his atypical supernatural thriller End of Days, but this is a far cry from that film in terms of delivery, eschewing over-the-top action and antics in favour of a more downbeat vision of dirty streets and genuine evil wandering them.
The story is purportedly based on a real-life detective who encountered such demonic possession whilst investigating some strange crimes, but the actual specifics of the narrative are utterly fictional, so you wonder why the filmmakers try so hard to hold on to plausibility. Basically Detective Sarchie stumbles upon a trio of possessed Iraq veterans and is forced to reluctantly put aside his understandable cynicism and team up with a rather unorthodox priest to combat this new evil.Aside from a couple of particularly tense encounters, and one solid but under-explored hand-to-hand combat sequence, the majority of Deliver Us From Evil feels strikingly familiar, and it’s actually the early scenes of normal cop investigations that draw us in more than the Exorcism-flavoured antics towards the end.
Eric Bana may feel like he’s slumming it, but he certainly invests himself in the role of the lead cop, and he has decent chemistry with Edgar Ramirez’s priest, but they don’t ever quite convince in what they’re expected to make us believe. They have some nice moments together – like the entire flashback confession, which is really rather brutal – but they are inherently limited by the material, which trades in the supernatural in such a desperate-to-be-real fashion that it almost risks alienating anybody not prepared to accept that 'this is real.'
Blu-ray Picture QualityDeliver Us From Evil hits UK Region Free Blu-ray with a surprisingly spectacular 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Despite being a resoundingly dark and almost entirely (if not entirely) night-set feature, the digital cinematography handles the darkness effortlessly.
Sony’s release delivers frequently astounding detail and precision, and a near-flawless image throughout.
The colour scheme is expectedly tailored for the night-setting, with a few neon tones striking through the grimy, slick environment, and with the shadows coming alive – sometimes literally. Indeed, the video presentation is so good that it often makes the surveillance camera footage, which is peppered throughout the piece, look better than you would think it would actually be in real life. Black levels, if you even need to ask, are fantastic; rich and deep and seemingly limitless, and there appear to be no overt digital defects to plague your enjoyment of this feature. In its own right, despite the content not being particularly tailored for it, this is a demo presentation, certainly a benchmark in terms of just what you can do with such a dark feature.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is almost as impressive.
Delivering clear and coherent dialogue throughout, largely dominating the frontal array where required but also prepared to creep up at you from the surrounds, as if your own walls are coming alive with the voices from a demonically possessed psyche. Indeed the effects are probably the most involving part of the proceedings, from the opening assault to the various police skirmishes, to the exorcistic finale. The surround array is particularly well served by these more creepy flourishes – everything from growling lions to scuttling insects; echoing screams to deathly howls – whilst the occasional gunshots remind us of the punchy LFE presence that’s ever-ready to bring you to your knees. The score is well presented too, and allows further fuel for the surrounds. Overall it’s a strong, impressive presentation that’s easily demo quality.
Blu-ray ExtrasAside from the now near-mandatory UV copy we get a decent enough selection of background featurettes, with a headlining commentary by writer/director Scott Derrickson supported by four featurettes, each running at about 10 minutes in length: Illuminating Evil looking at the real-life detective Sarchie (complete with interviews); Deliver Us From Demons looking at the practical makeup; The Two Sergeants looking at the attempt to blend fact and fiction; and The Demon Detective further detailing Sarchie’s investigations.
Deliver Us From Evil VerdictFunnily enough, there are plenty of entertaining flicks with the same themes, which are played straight but don’t take themselves quite so seriously, and Deliver Me From Evil neither has the cinematic presence of The Exorcist nor the sheer silly enjoyment factor of something like End of Days.
Playing it documentary-style feels an awful lot like playing it safe, with this supposedly based-on-a-real-person tale limited by its own self-imposed restrictions.
At least the Region Free UK Blu-ray from Sony looks and sounds pretty spectacular, and there are a nice selection of extras to please fans. It's far from a bad feature, and not quite a bland feature, but it never really escapes its own limitations.
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