Bland hor­ror is a hellish ef­fort

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

No, this is not (thank­fully) a re­make of Prom Night IV but a cu­ri­ous mashup of po­lice pro­ce­dural thriller and su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror.

This col­li­sion of gen­res has been done be­fore — End of Days, Fallen — but does Sin­is­ter direc­tor Scott Der­rick­son give the mix of hand­guns and cru­ci­fixes a fresh coat of paint?

The an­swer is no, not re­ally. If, come the clos­ing credits, you feel like you’ve seen this all be­fore, it’s prob­a­bly be­cause you have.

Der­rick­son’s at­tempts to fuse pos­ses­sion scares with court­room drama in 2005 chiller The Ex­or­cism of Emily Rose worked to some ex­tent but there isin’t much orig­i­nal­ity — or gen­uine ter­ror — in his lat­est so-called chiller.

The direc­tor and his Emily Rose col­lab­o­ra­tor Paul Har­ris Board­man adapt Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Col­lier Cool’s book Be­ware the Night and the bizarre tale is sup­pos­edly based on “real events’.

Eric Bana plays Sarchie, a New York cop who teams up with priest Men­doza (Edgar Ramirez) to bat­tle de­monic pos­ses­sions in the city.

From the Iraq-set pro­logue — like The Ex­or­cist’s open­ing with loud sol­diers in­stead of a calm Max von Sy­dow — on­wards, it’s clear Der­rick­son is try­ing to bat­ter our senses.

The film is so dark, you’d be for­given for think­ing some­one for­got to pay the elec­tric­ity bill, there’s more rain than in the av­er­age Scot­tish sum­mer and just about ev­ery an­i­mal you can think of jumps out at us, cul­mi­nat­ing in a quite un­set­tling night-time zoo se­quence.

Lazy scares abound, from old favourites like the cat leap­ing from a cup­board and wild dog bark­ing, to the hor­ror sta­ple of kids’ toys and nurs­ery rhymes used to sin­is­ter ef­fect.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion drags on too long amid Sarchie hear­ing voices, his daugh­ter be­ing tor­mented by mys­te­ri­ous scratch­ing in her bed­room and use of lyrics and songs from rock band The Doors.

Bana, in his first true stab at hor­ror, looks lost in the mad­ness sur­round­ing him and Ramirez (Wrath of the Ti­tans) is sad­dled with way too much ex­po­si­tion to spout.

The pair’s mis-judged bro­mance amounts to lit­tle more than the of­ten seen non-be­liever need­ing to be con­vinced by a man of God.

Fun­ny­man Joe McHale (But­ler) ba­si­cally plays him­self and seems to think he’s star­ring in a com­edy and Olivia Munn ( Jen) sports a laugh­ably fluc­tu­at­ing Brook­lyn ac­cent. Lon­doner Sean Har­ris (Santino) bucks the trend with a chill­ing per­for­mance backed by im­pres­sive make-up — even if he does look like a Reaper from Blade II.

The cli­mac­tic ex­or­cism — all flash­ing lights, blood and, erm, rain – fi­nally brings some life to events and then... that’s it, with an end­ing that’s as abrupt as it is dis­ap­point­ing.

Bring­ing new mean­ing to the phrase pos­ses­sion is nine-tenths of the law, De­liver Us from Evil aims for dev­il­ish hor­ror but the most scary thing about Der­rick­son’s flick is its in­sis­tence on aping other, bet­ter tales of ter­ror.

On the case Eric Bana’s Sarchie faces some demons

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