Allowing that the best way to thwart the forces of evil in the universe is to laugh in their face, Deliver Us From Evil is a big, fat slam dunk on the side of good. If this movie doesn’t leave you howling at the very idea of demonic possession, you’re in dire need of an exorcist.
Mind-blowingly asserting it’s based on actual events, this profoundly preposterous cop-horror mash-up movie posits not only that demons took possession of three Iraq war vets who poked into the wrong hole while pursuing insurgents in 2010, but that when they returned to New York they unleashed a surge in demonic hoodoo that got the animals riled in the Bronx Zoo, the toys in a little girl’s bedroom all Chucky-ed up, and a piece chomped out of Eric Bana’s arm by a mental patient who previously lobbed her baby into the aforementioned civic tourist attraction’s lion’s den.
Before getting that chunk chewed from his arm, Bana’s hard-core non-believing New Yawk flatfoot Ralph Sarchie thought evil was merely what men do, and the movie opens with an incident of random infanticide, which gruesomely backs him up. But as the weirdness ramps up, and Sarchie is confronted by all manner of spooky basements, shock-cut visions, crazed aquarium fish, random bursts of Doors’ music and a Hispanic maverick priest-demonologist (Edgar Ramirez) in a leather jacket, he slowly comes around to what the film has already been insisting with all the poetic subtlety of a rabid ferret dropped in one’s trousers: this stuff is real, bro! Wake up and smell the sulphur! As the stalwartly demon-resistant Sarchie, the grimly humourless and persistently charisma-short Bana has little to do but provide an inadvertent explanation for the question of why all this demonic chaos keeps breaking out in his general vicinity. In one of his many interminable expositional sequences – delivered, not helpfully, in a thick Spanish accent – Ramirez suggests there’s something inside the big guy the devil can’t resist. And there is: a vacuum just begging for something, anything, to fill it.
But if Deliver Us From Evil is a bad movie, it at least has the decency to be a full-on bull-moose howler of a bad movie, which is to say it’s fun to watch in an entirely unwholesome, slow-motion-into-brick-wall kind of way. So if you are looking for something devilishly awful to watch, and have the disposable scratch to invest in few hours of dubiously negative amusement, this might be your cup of upchuck.