Scott Derrickson’s Sinister was an admirably nasty little horror that managed to stay unnerving despite its familiar framework. His follow up Deliver Us From Evil mostly pulls off the same trick, staying entertaining for its first hour with a bombardment of demonic clichés including bats, ancient ciphers, kiddies in peril, ritualistic murder, and increasingly pasty possession victims.
Eric Bana plays a variation on his usual tortured tough guy as officer Ralph Sarchie, investigating a series of distinctly occult-flavored crimes that eventually bring him into contact with Edgar Ramirez’s former drug-addict priest Mendoza, himself even more tortured, but kind of cool about it. Joel McHale is a bit too preppy to convince as Sarchie’s thrill-seeking partner, but he’s watchable, and Olivia Munn is just fine in her meaty role as A Wife.
For most of its runtime, Deliver Us From Evil is an enjoyably pulpy, bloody supernatural tale, and fun in spite of its best efforts to come off as grim n’ gritty. So it’s a shame that the 3rd act plays out so predictably, with a prolonged scene that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever witnessed an onscreen exorcism.
Derrickson does manage to breathe life into some old ideas, but ultimately the sense of nostalgia here negates any real excitement. Hopefully he’s able to cut loose when he joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his next film Dr Strange.