A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Deliver Us from Evil is a demon-possession horror movie that's not to be confused with the 2006 Oscar-nominated documentary of the same name. There's heavy, gory, bloody violence; disgusting corpses; struggling and fighting; guns and knives; children in peril; and scary demons. There's also a subplot about a child molester/murderer. Language is strong, including several uses of "f--k." A main character is a recovering drug addict who still drinks whisky and smokes cigarettes to get by. There are some brief, minor sexual situations. The movie is supposedly based on the true story of Bronx cop Ralph Sarchie, who published a book about his experiences, which may give older teens something to talk about.
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What's the story?
The story of DELIVER US FROM EVIL, which says it's based on true events, begins in Iraq in 2010, as three soldiers discover a sinister chamber. Then, in the present day, South Bronx cop Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and his partner (Joel McHale) investigate first a spousal abuse report and then an even stranger report wherein a woman threw her baby into a ravine at the zoo. The cops notice a hooded stranger there, and in surveillance footage, observe him performing some kind of weird ritual. Sarchie meets a priest, Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez), who knows the woman from the zoo and who seems to know what's actually going on. But when Sarchie's wife (Olivia Munn) and young daughter are kidnapped, he must reach down deep within himself to accept new realities that he never dared face before.
Is it any good?
Writer/director Scott Derrickson, who already has one exorcism movie under his belt (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), started off with some strong material here. Sarchie's story could have made a gripping, tense, and spooky police procedural, with a genuine sense of awe about what's possible in the universe. Instead, Derrickson delivers this, which has been twisted and forced to resemble a traditional horror movie. That is, it has a few dozen scenes in which something scary jumps out at the camera or some sudden noise startles us. Plus, it has lots of blood and gore. But anything genuinely scary is long gone.
Derrickson's rhythm and timing also seem off. He resorts to shaky-cam and confusing use of space whenever anything dynamic happens, and, though he drags the story on to 118 full minutes, it feels alternately rushed and draggy. The talented Munn has nothing to do here, though Bana and Ramirez have a few good scenes together. And Christopher Young's score is quite unsettling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Deliver Us from Evil's gory, bloody violence. How much was necessary to tell the story? Does it go too far?
How scary is the movie? Does it show anything deeply frightening, or were you more momentarily startled? Why?
What's the appeal of demon-possession and exorcism movies in the horror genre? What other ones have you seen? How do they compare?
If the movie is based on a true story, how does it make you re-think the world around you, if at all?
- In theaters: July 2, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: October 28, 2014
- Cast: Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, Edgar Ramirez
- Director: Scott Derrickson
- Studios: Sony Pictures Releasing, Screen Gems
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout, and language
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