July 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Review: 'Deliver Us From Evil' not haunting enough

Edgar Ramirez, left, plays a rebel priest and Eric Bana is a New York police officer in 'Deliver Us From Evil.' (Andrew Schwartz / Sony Pictures)

There are plenty of jump scares in “Deliver Us From Evil,” the new exorcism thriller “inspired by actual accounts” and starring Eric Bana as a haunted New York cop investigating some demonic unpleasantness. Director Scott Derrickson (“Sinister,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) has a knack for producing jolts out of quick cuts accompanied by loud soundtrack cues, and there are several moments that will make you jostle your popcorn.

Derrickson, and the movie, are not as adept at creating a sustained air of fear or dread, which is ultimately where any horror movie sinks or swims. So “Deliver Us From Evil” has scares but isn’t truly scary, even though it cycles through nearly every horror movie trick in the book.

Let’s count them down: “Deliver Us From Evil” has possession, demons, children in peril, popular music repositioned for maximum creepiness (the Doors’ catalog is a favorite of the possessed, it turns out), religious overtones and a “true events” hook. The movie also unfolds during perhaps the gloomiest, rainiest week seen on screen since “Se7en.”

It opens in 2010 when a group of soldiers encounter a tomb of horrors while stationed in Iraq. Back home in New York a few years later, things aren’t going so well for the men, and tough cop Ralph Sarchie (Bana, struggling with a Bronx accent) is called to investigate a domestic violence dispute with one of the soldiers. This leads Sarchie down a dark path through many a dingy Bronx location, and since otherworldly events are in play, he partners with rebel priest Father Mendozza (Edgar Ramirez).

Things get pretty gruesome along the way, and “Evil” doesn’t shy away from grisly images. But the scares don’t last, save for the occasional chill you may get hearing Jim Morrison afterward.

'Deliver Us From Evil'


Rated R for bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout and language

Running time: 118 minutes