Somebody please get Eric Bana (Lone Survivor) a nice juicy TV role where he can actually create a character worthy of his talent and intense presence, rather than being forced to shuffle — yet again — through another underwritten genre pawn. This time out he’s NYPD sergeant Ralph Sarchie, who falls into teaming up with “undercover” Jesuit priest Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez: The Counsellor) to investigate some weird demonic-possession shit going down in the South Bronx. (This sidelines Sarchie’s goofy partner, Butler [Joel McHale: Blended], though not so much that Butler cannot ultimately fulfill his own genre-pawn purpose.) Talk to any actual NYPD cop and he will gleefully regale you with tales of all the weird shit he’s seen, and this tale does, in fact, purport to be based on actual real-life weird shit as experienced by real-life NYPD cop Ralph Sarchie. And yet it’s no more plausible than any of the numerous other horror movies supposedly based on fact. (It’s also far less plausible — and far less entertaining — than some of the weird-shit tales I’ve heard from actual cops.) It’s long since been a problem that allegedly authentic malevolent spirits presented to us by movies are all so old-fashioned and predictable: I mean, dudes are cutting people’s heads off and posting the video on YouTube, and you’re still trotting out some raspy muttered Latin and blowing out lightbulbs? Get with the 21st century, o ancient evil ones. Bad enough that this flick is basically another rote police procedural conducted by a cardboard movie cop, but its notion of evil simply cannot compete with reality. Almost the entire horror genre needs to significantly up its game if it wants to genuinely horrify us today. Deliver Us from Evil is, sadly, almost cosy escapism from reality, which is exactly the opposite of what it wants to be.
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