As a summer horror film, Deliver From Evil will barely make the grade despite a predictable script and some hokey acting. A sincere, brooding performances from Eric Bana as a skeptical police detective somewhat compensates for a predictable plot line. (based on a true story!)
The movie opens with a brief prologue set in Iraq where a group of soldiers stumble upon a haunted place and discover evil spirits. Then we meet "Sarchie", a dedicated, but cynical cop. Joel McHale plays the doomed wisecracking partner. They investigate a series of crimes with connections to a group of soldiers who served in Iraq. They consult the charismatic Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) who quickly makes a believer of Sarchie.
At several points, we get drawn out sequences of guys sneaking around in basements and narrow, cobwebbed hallways that culminate with the inevitable jump scare. These chases never seem to lead anywhere, except to . . . yet another chase. And of course we get climatic exorcism scene that's mostly whiz bang special effects. Have we reached the point where filmed exorcisms have lost their shock value? Nothing's ever come close to the intensity of William Friedkin's gut wrenching theatrics in The Exorcist.
In saying that, Deliver Us From Evil isn't a complete bomb. There were some thoughtful scenes between Sarchie and Father Mendoz. On location shooting in New York gave the film the right urban feel. Too many films today dilute their power with bloated action sequences at the expense of characterization. Horror works best when you can engage with the characters. Then we actually care about them.