The Horror Honeys: New Release Review: Deliver Us From Evil

New Release Review: Deliver Us From Evil

I always like to start my reviews by being honest - I'm writing this review while still coming down from the massive heart palpitations I had while experiencing this film on it's opening day. There's nothing like seeing a film on opening day in a matinee with NO ONE else in the theatre to ruin it with their shuffling, coughing, or whatever. It's a screening just for you, in your very own theatre. Just you, and the film. It's powerful, it's pleasurable, and it's very personal. Another caveat - I'm in no way a religious person in the "traditional sense," so while this film hit me on many levels, that's not one of them - this film is deeply spiritual, without smacking you in the face with it, or making any assumptions about what "true faith" is, like many possession based films do.

Now, you might be thinking: "Whatever, Kat, chill out, it's just a movie."

No way. Horror is a very personal thing, and how people experience it is very personal as well. Deliver Us From Evil, is personal in a lot of ways. You might know that I have a bit of an obsession with possession films. You might also know that I'm big on history and archaeology. I'm also a special FX makeup artist who's extremely particular about mypractical FX work and what it means to horror films. What you don't know, is that I'm also a Doors fanatic - Jim Morrison breaks me in ways even I don't understand. Way to hit me with all the big guns, there Scott.

BE AWARE - MILD SPOILERS AHEAD


What I loved:

Relationships and their honesty - the separation of a stripped down the wire cop from his family; the connection between partners; the intensity of the hunter and the hunted, and not knowing which is which; the connection between religion and reality, and how hard we fight to keep it at bay.

Flaws - all of our characters have flaws, weaknesses, and shame; chinks in their armor that while they can be hidden from the closest of companions, but not from God, and not from demons. These flaws are what make these characters believable, and human; they are what separates them from God, and what brings them closer at the same time.

Practical makeup FX - I'm ALWAYS watching for practical FX. The return in recent years to "the old ways" has been a blissful transition for many horror fans, because it always means more gore, and more detail in the application. Deliver Us From Evil has some beautifully executed practical FX work, from corpses to the stain of evil, it's all stunning.

Suspense and Tension - I haven't been this tense in a film in a LONG time. From the lighting (demons know just how to mess with the fragile human ego, don't they?) to the score, my pulse was racing from the start. Yes, there are jump scares, but they're worth it. A Scott Derrickson jump scare is not a James Wan jump scare.

This photo does
NO justice to the actual image.
Creepy visuals - Deliver Us From Evil is loaded with creepy eye candy, and it's something that Scott Derrickson is really good at - the devil is in the details, after all. Some of these details are 'blink and you miss it' style, or just out of focus; and some are right out there in the open and hit you straight in the face. Cold blue flashlights, infrared and night vision, and always the various levels of darkness, and yes, there's more than one kind of darkness.

What I'm ignoring:

Some small issues with awkward dialogue - there are some character development sequences that seem choppy, but were likely edited for time, that could have used more finesse.

I'll take a personal exorcism please.
Demonology - I might be mistaken (but I also might not be) in that demons in film (and in documented cases) respond to the dialect and strictures of their region of origin (in this case, the middle east). However, in this case, the use of the universal Latin exorcism rite and then a breakdown into Spanish achieves the desired result. I can appreciate the mix of Persian and Latin in the inscriptions in a heavy way, but the insertion of Spanish into the rituals, while a good choice for Ramirez (I would watch a film that was just him talking and staring into the camera for 2 hours and nothing else), it didn't really jive for me in this setting.

What will make you forget anything you might have an issue with:

The final brutality of the exorcism scene including all 6 stages of the ritual. My heart was pounding, I was breathing funny, and I was utterly caught up in what was happening on screen. Utterly.

The Verdict: I have a rule that I will only buy horror films that I know I'll watch over and over again. Deliver Us From Evil will be one of the films added to my collection as soon as the DVD drops. 4 out of 5 cases of misdiagnosed PTSD.

A final note - Revenge Honey and Head Honey agree that Edgar Ramirez could be on screen for 2 hours talking about possession and speaking Latin/Spanish for 2 hours while staring into the camera and we'd be fucking thrilled.