When Sinister emerged in 2012 it was almost brushed aside with the huge success of Insidious and various Paranormal Activity sequels but Sinister is by far the best of that trio and was one of the freshest and boldest horror films of the last ten years. You could be forgiven then for getting very excited about Deliver Us From Evil. Sinister director Scott Derrickson is at the helm with acclaimed leading man Eric Bana taking centre stage and a strong supporting cast made up of Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), Sean Harris (The Borgias, Red Riding) and Joel McHale (Community), things were looking good. The final product however is messy, uninspired, unoriginal and aimless. The first hour is pretty rubbish with a lot of Eric Bana walking through dark rooms whilst blinking, and worse there are many laughable moments throughout – Man tames lions, the proclamation ‘He was everything I hate’ about a child murderer and also the most inappropriate use of shades ever by Eric Bana spring to mind. Also Joel McHale’s character is a massive New Yoik cup cliché and is ironically the kind of character they would mock relentlessly on Community (at one point McHale has a knife fight with the antagonist so ridiculous it could have actually been lifted directly from Community.)
What almost saves Deliver Us From Evil is a brilliant performance by the always chilling Sean Harris and a pretty damn memorable (spoiler) exorcism scene at the end but it isn’t enough to justify the drawn out, laboured first act.
Sinister was a rare thing in as much as it was a Western horror film you could be genuinely excited about that didn’t rely on gimmicks. Unfortunately with the patchy The Exorcism of Emily Rose on his resume, and the downright shit The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, it appears that Sinister was the exception rather than the rule for director Scott Derrickson.