Is Deliver Us From Evil this year’s The Conjuring? Or is it just another Devil’s Due? That’s right – there was a supernatural horror movie called Devil’s Due that came out earlier this year, and we’ve all already forgotten about it. Will Deliver Us From Evil suffer the same fate, or will it scare us all so silly we shan’t dare forget its brilliance?
It’ll likely fall somewhere between those two extremes. It follows New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) as he begins investigating a series of crimes so disturbing they lead him to seek the assistance of an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez). The two get their exorcist on.
Here’s the trailer:
10. It’s “inspired” by real life police sergeant-turned demonologist Ralph Sarchie, a protege of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring).
Ralph Sarchie was a member of the New York City Police Department for approximately twenty years, serving for a period of time in a Bronx precinct known as the most violent in the country. He was an altar boy in his youth, but had lost touch with his faith in adulthood until 1990, when he married, had his first daughter, and came across Satan’s Harvest, a book about a case of demonic possession that was investigated by paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren. He later contacted Lorraine Warren, thus beginning an apprenticeship with her and her team of investigators. She eventually granted her blessing for Sarchie to establish the New York City chapter of the New England Society for Psychic Research.
Sarchie published accounts of his dual work as a cop and demonologist in the 2001 book Beware the Night, and ever since his 2004 retirement from the NYPD he has devoted his life to full-time work as a demonologist. He talks about his career in the Ralph Sarchie Documentary.
9. I say “inspired” because most of it has been fictionalized
Director/writer Scott Derrickson explained the adaptation process to The Complex:
Sarchie’s memoir, Beware the Night, which he wrote and Jerry Bruckheimer bought for me to adapt, is a bunch of individual cases—they’re not connected at all. So I just took elements from what I thought were the most interesting cases and tied them together with a fictional narrative. I told Ralph I was going to do that, and said, ‘Look, this is going to be a real blend of fact and fiction, but I’m going to get you right,’ which I think I did.
It’s the real Ralph Sarchie, how he thinks, how he talks, what he does, how he’s changed as a person as a result of the stuff he does. But the main storyline is fictional, and I had to do that in order to make it work as a movie. I would have not done that, though, if I didn’t have his blessing.
Sarchie worked on the film every day, serving not just as “an advisor for his personal story” but also as the NYPD police advisor, making sure Eric Bana acted like a real cop.
8. Jerry Bruckheimer has been working to get this movie made for over a decade
Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay were once inseparable, enjoying a semi-legendary box office run of Bruckheimer-produced/Bay-directed hits – Bad Boys (1995), The Rock (1996), Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Bad Boys 2 (2003). They’ve since gone their separate ways, but it seems perfectly fitting that Bruckheimer’s Deliver Us From Evil is arriving one week after Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. The funny thing about it, though, is whereas Bay’s Transformers is exactly the kind of big, dumb action movie you’d expect from him Deliver Us From Evil is something totally new for Bruckheimer. It’s his first horror film in 30+ years of producing, but he’s been trying to get it made since buying the rights to Ralph Sarchie’s Beware The Night in 2003.
7. It’s Jerry Bruckheimer’s first film since Disney kicked him to the curb
Disney and Bruckheimer decided last year to begin seeing other people after a nearly 20 year union. They claim it had nothing to do with the embarrassing failure of The Lone Ranger, but no one’s buying that, especially since that movie was regarded as being something Bruckheimer let get completely out of control, budget-wise. He has since signed an exclusive deal with Paramount, though Deliver Us From Evil is actually coming from Sony’s Screen Gems label. There are obviously very different box office expectations for something like Deliver Us From Evil than The Lone Ranger, but there will still be extra curious eyes in Hollywood looking at the box office totals for Bruckheimer’s first post-Disney film.
6. The director scared the crap out of us with Sinister, and has since been hired to helm Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange
Scott Derrickson got most people’s attention with Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), but I first took notice when I saw Sinister (2012), which The Complex summed up perfetly:
In 2012’s Sinister, Scott Derrickson used the guise of an A-list star (Ethan Hawke) to launch an extremely downbeat assault on viewers’ senses, a first-class creepshow accentuated by disorienting musical choices, highly disturbing snuff films shot on Super 8, and the polar opposite of a Hollywood ending.
Deliver Us From Evil is Derrickson’s biggest film to date, but will soon be passed by Marvel’s Doctor Strange as well as an Outer Limits movie, both of which he is directing and writing (or co-writing). He’s also producing and co-writing though not directing Sinister 2.
5. Scott Derickson has a degree in theological studies
He freely admits to having “always been fascinated by not so much the darker side of religion but the darker side of the mystical world that we live in.” So, movies like Emily Rose, Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil, and now Doctor Strange are natural fits for him.
4. Scott Derrickson only ever made The Exorcism of Emily Rose because of a meeting he had with Ralph Sarchie about making Deliver Us From Evil
Bruckheimer optioned the film rights for Beware the Night in 2003 with the idea that Scott Derrickson would adapt it into a script and probably also direct. Shortly thereafter, Derrickson spent 4 days with Ralph Sarchie to discuss his career, both as a police sergeant and demonologist, and at some point over those 4 days Sarchie gave him a copy of the non-fiction book The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel. Derrickson eventually optioned this for a mere $100 and adapted into Exorcism of Emily Rose.
3. It was originally supposed to come out next January
Derrickson told The Complex:
[Deliver Us From Evil] was originally slated to be released next January. Once everyone at Sony saw the movie, they moved it to summer. They thought it had a bigger, broader appeal, and I wasn’t expecting that at all.
January? Where movies go to die! July? The land of big budget blockbusters, but after The Conjuring it might be a new testing ground for horror films.
2. The Soup & Community star Joel McHale plays a badass Bronx cop.
We’ve seen Joel McHale do his best John McClane impression in Community‘s classic Die Hard spoof, but will we really be able to take him seriously as a legitimately badass and lethal Bronx cop in Deliver Us From Evil?
1. It’s not like most exorcism movies
The trailers emphasize the more familiar supernatural-horror movie moments, but Deliver Us From Evil most definitely shows the Bruckheimer touch by also having a fair amount of action as well as a police procedural through-line. Plus, it doesn’t isolate its action to a single-location or stick to rural country, instead setting everything in The Bronix, where they filmed on location. It’s priest, played by Edgar Ramirez, is also a bit of a badass, different in temperament and presentation than most priests seen in exorcism movies.
That’s all fine and good, but is this movie actually worth seeing? Not so much, according to RottenTomatoes’ 31% approval rating, although there are some top critics who really like it. You might be better off simply renting Sinister if you‘ve yet to experience its brilliance. But, come on, aren’t you kind of curious to see Joel McHale try to play a bad-ass cop?