Went and saw Deliver Us From Evil this afternoon. If you know me then you know I’m a sucker for zombies and demonic possession. The Exorcist, The Evil Dead, The Last Exorcism… I love them. You know, in a Platonic sort of way. This one had a lot of promise. Not a shaky cam film, based on a novel (we’ll come back to that one, believe me.) and, most importantly some decent make up and other effects as well as decent atmosphere. Yup, it looked really promising.
And then it started.
“Based on a true story…”
Well, fuck me running. See, that one sentence opens up a tremendous can of worms. Based on a true story means anything from “I heard a guy say this one time” to “complete bull shit but, if we say ‘based on a true story’ some gullible schmuck will think it’s real.” Texas Chainsaw Massacre was “based” on the true story of Ed Gein… well, the making a skin suit out of lady parts bit. The rest was complete bull shit made up on the spot which is fine as it is a classic of the gory, 70’s-80’s slasher genre. The Strangers, a film that is “based on a true story” was based on an unsolved child murder from the early 80’s at a campground that had no suspects and no corroborating evidence to support any theory other than, someone showed up, committed a murder and then vanished without a trace which, in and of itself is scary as hell but hardly what you saw in that movie.
So, back to Deliver Us From Evil. I question any such “true story” film as it is so prominent (and easy) to synthesize true events. I picked up a copy of the book the movie is based on and recently started reading so I am yet able to verify how closely the film and the novel work together but I will say this, if that sort of shit happened in any major metropolitan police department (such as New York City’s South Bronx area) either in the late 70’s-80’s when the author was a cop, or today when the film was set, there is NO WAY that it would not have been splattered like so much gore across every news paper and television program in the country and there is NO WAY that the officers involved would ever be allowed to “retire.” I say this as someone who works in and was raised within the law enforcement community.
So, moving away from the “true story” aspect of it, how is it as a work of fiction? It’s okay. Entertaining but nothing ground breaking in the horror genre. There are some predictable moments, jump scares and screamers out of the middle of nowhere and several demon possession cliches like talking in foreign languages and self mutilation. The story is decent though and it’s well acted and well filmed. While nowhere near as shocking or scary as advertised (Se7en meets Paranormal Activity) it’s still pretty entertaining. Still, if I had known then what I was in for I might have paid a buck twenty for the Redbox rental as opposed to eight for the matinee.
If you like demon stories you’ll be amused but if you’re looking for something really horrifying and scary I’d suggest picking up a news paper and watching the federal government piss away our financial future because there is no power in heaven or hell as frightening as that.