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DELIVER US FROM EVIL (MA)
Stars: Eric Bana, Sean Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn
Director: Scott Derrickson
Screening: general release
THE most recognisable thing about horror director Scott Derrickson is his penchant for imitating the classics. His new one, Deliver Us From Evil, is clearly modelled on The Exorcist.
The script by Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman is based on a memoir by Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), a New York cop who quit to purge demons full-time.
Working mostly after dark, the strung-out Sarchie experiences unsettling visions and is constantly venturing into shadowy spaces. Gory images are juxtaposed with symbols of warped innocence: a deserted merry-go-round, a piano that plays Pop Goes The Weasel all by itself.
These well-worn devices might have been more effective had Derrickson managed to link them to a compelling central idea. To the degree the film is about anything, it seems to be fear of contamination from abroad: the plot involves an infectious form of demonic possession, brought home from Iraq by a disgraced American soldier (Sean Harris).
Stuck in bland leading-man mode and overdoing his Bronx accent, Bana fails to win much sympathy for the ‘‘tortured’’ Sarchie.