Deliver Us From Evil


Eric Bana is impressed by Edgar Ramirez' iMDB page.

Eric Bana is impressed by Edgar Ramirez’ iMDB page.

(2014) Supernatural Horror (Screen Gems) Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale, Chris Coy, Dorian Missick, Mike Houston, Lulu Wilson, Olivia Horton, Scott Johnsen, Daniel Sauli, Antoinette LaVecchia, Aidan Gemme, Jenna Gavigan, Skylar Toddings, Sebastian LaCause, Steve Hamm, Sean Nelson, Tijuana Nicks, Lolita Foster. Directed by Scott Derrickson

Usually when you hear things that go bump in the night it’s a sign that it’s time to move. In horror movies, most people who hear such things tend to go looking around for what’s causing those noises and that’s never a good idea.

Ralph Sarchie (Bana) is an NYPD detective stationed in the Bronx. His partner Butler (McHale) is an adrenaline junkie who relies on his partner’s “radar” to figure out when real bad stuff is going down. Ralph, a lapsed Catholic,  thinks of himself as having a “hard hand” as a cop and he has the scars to prove it. He’s a family man too, with his wife Jen (Munn) pregnant with their second child – adorable moppet Christina (Wilson) is their first. However, as of late he hasn’t exactly been present at home.

The truth is Ralph is beginning to crack a little. Finding dead babies in dumpsters doesn’t do a lot to maintain your faith in humanity. When he arrives on a scene where a disturbed mother (Horton) throws her infant into the lion pit at the Bronx Zoo, he has an odd confrontation with a painter who turns out to be an Iraq War vet named Santino (Harris) who had a strange and frightening encounter in the Middle East.

Taking an interest in the case is Father Mendoza (Ramirez), an unorthodox Jesuit priest (which is something of an oxymoron) who has seen true evil in his time. He knows that what Ralph is facing isn’t run of the mill evil perpetrated by deranged or amoral men, but something more primordial and far-reaching. Ralph is skeptical of this at first, but when his daughter starts hearing scratching noises under her floorboards and her stuffed animals begin to menace her, the pragmatic cop begins to realize that he might be in way over his head.

Derrickson, who also helmed the horror hit Sinister has got the creepiness factor down. He orchestrates an excruciating terror that begins early on and never lets you out of its grip for the remainder of the movie. A good horror film requires the proper atmosphere to work properly and Derrickson supplies that.

Bana is a very underrated actor, one who has done impressive work in films like Munich but has never really crossed over into superstar territory. He probably won’t with his work here, but it’s very capable which is a standard with Bana. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him turn in a bad performance even in films that are not very good.

There is a real Ralph Sarchie and this is based on some of the cases that he has been involved with. As with most horror movies that use real life events as a springboard, this takes an awful lot of liberties with Sarchie’s story (he wrote a book with Lisa Collier Cool entitled Beware the Night). There are elements of a lot of different cases in this single case and the character of Father Mendoza is an amalgam of a couple of different Catholic clerics. Take the “based on a true story” thing with a grain of salt; true stories are rarely as exciting as they are portrayed to be on the big screen.

This is equal parts police procedural and gross-out supernatural scare film. Some of the scares are legit here, and there’s plenty of squirm-inducing images. Cat lovers, be forewarned – there are some scenes that you will find quite disturbing and there are a couple of gruesome murders shown in detail onscreen. While there’s nothing here that is particularly standard-setting, neither do the make-up and special effects disgrace themselves either.

This movie is a bit of a metaphor for the overall summer season; while it has a lot of elements that could have made it a great film, it goes the safe route in a lot of ways and ends up being just a solid, entertaining film. I will say the climactic exorcism scene is pretty nifty, but it lacks the sheer on the edge of your seat tension that the similar scene in The Exorcist possessed (no pun intended). From my point of view, this is solid but unremarkable horror entertainment for the summer months.

REASONS TO GO: Bana always delivers and Ramirez is an interesting priest. Some legitimate scares and uninterrupted creepy vibe.

REASONS TO STAY: The usual horror movie cliches.

FAMILY VALUES:  There are some disturbing images, a good deal of violence that is generally bloody and gory, salty language and yes, terror. It’s a horror film after all.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The Ralph Sarchie role was originally offered to Mark Wahlberg who declined. Eventually Bana accepted the part.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 7/20/14: Rotten Tomatoes: 30% positive reviews. Metacritic: 40/100.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Devil Inside

FINAL RATING: 6/10

NEXT: Tammy

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New Releases for the Week of July 4, 2014


Deliver Us From EvilDELIVER US FROM EVIL

(Screen Gems) Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Joel McHale, Chris Coy, Dorian Missick, Mike Houston, Lulu Wilson. Directed by Scott Derrickson

A practical New York City cop, struggling with his own personal issues, is assigned to investigate a string of bizarre and inexplicable crimes. He discovers there is someone else investigating the same series of crimes – a renegade Catholic priest. Together they will fight to solve these mysteries and in doing so they will come face to face with the nature of true evil. And believe it or not, this is based on actual events.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, a featurette, premiere footage and B-roll video here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opened Wednesday)

Genre: Supernatural Horror

Rating: R (for bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout and language)

Begin Again

(Weinstein) Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine. A down on his luck former record company executive teams up with a recently dumped girlfriend of a rising rock star when he hears something in her that excites his imagination again. They will have to beat the odds to make something of her in an industry that has changed on the both of them, and for each of them to heal the other.

See the trailer and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard (opened Wednesday)

Genre: Romance

Rating: R (for language)

Bobby Jasoos

(Reliance) Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Arjan Bajwa, Supriya Pathak. An earnest young person has one goal in life – to become the number one detective in the old city of Hyderabad. At first, this seems like an impossible dream but then a case comes along that may just achieve that dream for Bobby Jasoos.

See the trailer, clips and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Bollywood

Rating: NR

Earth to Echo

(Relativity) Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt. Three boys, inseparable friends, are disconsolate because they are about to be forced to leave their homes due to a highway bypass going through their neighborhood. When they start getting odd signals on their cell phones, they decide to investigate. This leads them directly to an alien being, stranded on Earth and desperate to find a way back to his native planet. E.T. phone home, right?

See the trailer, interviews, clips, B-roll video and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Family Sci-Fi Adventure

Rating: R (for language and some bloody violence)

Snowpiercer

(Radius) Chris Evans, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda SwintonAfter an experiment to stop climate change backfires and brings on a devastating ice age, all that remains of humanity is contained on a single train that crosses the planet powered by a sacred perpetual motion engine. A class system has developed on the train with the Haves living in luxury and the Have Nots just barely surviving. We all know what happens when people have nothing to lose.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Science Fiction (opened Wednesday)

Rating: R (for violence, language and drug content)

Tammy

(New Line) Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Toni Collette. A woman on the down side of life loses her job, her boyfriend and her car all in the same day. She needs a road trip to clear her head but with no money and no wheels and no place to go, she looks to be SOL in the big city. Then her grandma has an idea…

See the trailer and interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy (opened Tuesday)

Rating: R (for language including sexual references)

Four-Warned: July 2014


LucyEvery month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Most of the movies will never play theatrically where you live (unless you live in either New York or Los Angeles) but many of those that won’t will be available through Video-on-Demand; check with your local cable or satellite providers to find out if any specific movie is available through that medium.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. LUCY (1.2)
2. DELIVER US FROM EVIL (1.5)
3. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1.6)
4. THE PURGE: ANARCHY (1.8)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. LIFE ITSELF (1.0)
2. ALIVE INSIDE (1.2)
3. A LONG WAY DOWN (1.3)
4. MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (1.5)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

JULY 2, 2014

DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Screen Gems) Genre: Horror. Teaming up with a renegade Catholic priest, a down-to-earth Bronx police detective bears witness to supernatural evil. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Eric Bana is a favorite and the trailer looks pretty damn spooky.
EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) Genre: Family. A group of kids who are about to lose their homes to a highway project must find a way to rescue an extraterrestrial and help him find his way home. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.4 The similarities to E.T. are too much to ignore.
PREMATURE (IFC Midnight) Genre: Sex Comedy. In what seems to be a common theme lately, a high school senior relives the same day over and over again. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Describes itself as American Pie meets Groundhog Day; now why doesn’t that sound appealing at all?
SCHOOL DANCE (Lionsgate) Genre: Comedy. To win the heart of his high school crush, a young man must make the school’s hottest dance crew, survive her gangsta brother and his own holy terror of a mom. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 A spoof of a genre that I can’t stand anyway figures to be an utter waste of my time.
TAMMY (New Line) Genre: Comedy. In the grip of a very bad day, Tammy decides to go on a road trip but the only way she can afford to do it is to take her feisty grandmother along. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Thelma and Louise done for laughs – and with Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon aboard, I’m betting this will be worth the trip.

JULY 3, 2014

NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. Based on actual events, a Swedish Christian punk street kid in a foster home finds himself increasingly at odds with the dysfunctional family he lives with as the cruel and vicious father tests his faith and capacity to love in ways that will drive him to his limit – and beyond. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.9 Was an official entry at Cannes and has won numerous awards on the horror festival circuit.

JULY 4, 2014

BEYOND THE EDGE (IFC) Genre: Crime Comedy. When two rival gangs try to rob the same bank at the same time, a teller and a customer try to save the day without getting caught in the crossfire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 A very interesting trailer and a very attractive cast.
BOBBY JASOOS (Reliance) Genre: Bollywood. Perhaps the impossible dream is to become the best detective in Hyderabad; perhaps not. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Like most Bollywood films looks cheesy but fun; I do wish they’d provide an English translation on the trailers though.
GABRIELLE (DreamWorks) Genre: Horror. A high school senior suspects his new neighbor is a vampire. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.0 Was a remake of this ‘80s horror comedy really needed? And does the new version add anything?
HEATSTROKE (Phase 4) Genre: Action. On a family trip to the African desert, a research scientist accidentally runs afoul of murderous arms dealers and must evade the killers and protect his daughter and girlfriend from them as well as from the dangerous African environment. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Stephen Dorff is becoming a very capable action hero.
LIFE ITSELF (Magnolia) Genre: Documentary. Roger Ebert wasn’t only the greatest film critic who ever lived; his compassion and social awareness inspired many through his long and decorated career. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 Ebert was a personal hero of mine and a continuing inspiration; I’ll see this one even if I have to drive 500 miles to do it.

JULY 9, 2014

CLOSED CURTAIN (Reliance) Genre: Drama. An Iranian author, hiding inside his house with his dog, sees his life changed by the arrival of a woman fleeing for her life. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 I like the concept but the trailer doesn’t really reveal very much.

JULY 11, 2014

A LONG WAY DOWN (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. Four strangers who decide to kill each on the same night meet and mutually decide to wait six weeks, becoming media sensations as an unintended consequence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.3 Looks really, really, REALLY good.
AFFLUENZA (FilmBuff) Genre: Drama. Escaping a middle class existence for a life of privilege and wealth, a would-be photographer watched his rich cousin’s life come crashing down around her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Interesting trailer but can’t help thinking that it has a bit of the “poor little rich girl” element to it.
BOYHOOD (IFC) Genre: Drama. Twelve years in the life of a young boy and his family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Director Richard Linklater filmed this over the course of 12 years with the same cast as the young actors literally grow up before our eyes.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. Ten years after a devastating virus has wiped out most of the human race, the genetically evolved apes led by Caesar and the remaining humans will fight it out for the role of dominant species on this planet. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6 I think we can guess who wins the war.
LAND HO! (Sony Classics) Genre: Comedy. A pair of aging men, once related by marriage, try to reconnect during a trip to Iceland. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.7 I’m all for movies that celebrate the joy of life.
MADE IN AMERICA (Phase 4) Genre: Musical Documentary. At a music festival created by Jay Z to celebrate how music unites us and engages us to pursue our dreams, director Ron Howard creates a documentary designed to immerse us in that vibe. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 The next best thing to being there I suppose.
RAGE (RLJ/Image) Genre: Thriller. When his daughter is kidnapped, a businessman with a dark past must revisit his violent years to get her back by any means necessary. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 I guess Nicolas Cage still has some of these awaiting release.
ROAD TO PALOMA (Anchor Bay) Genre: Thriller. A Native American on the run after avenging his mother’s murder discovers that justice has a cost. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Jason Momoa stars and directs; looks pretty gritty from where I sit.
UNDERWATER DREAMS (AMC) Genre: Documentary. Four teenage boys from an impoverished school enter an underwater robot competition against MIT and won with a robot built with parts from Home Depot. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The ultimate underdog story.

JULY 18, 2014

ALIVE INSIDE (BOND/360) Genre: Documentary. Dan Cohen founds a nonprofit organization called Music & Memory which uses music to help reawaken memories in people the healthcare system has given up on. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 A celebration of life and humanity; if the trailer doesn’t move you, nothing in life will.
AMONG RAVENS (Gravitas) Genre: Drama. During a 4th of July gathering, the secrets of a family begin to emerge and have a severe effect on their 10-year-old daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Tries to filter a serious subject through the eyes of a 10-year-old; the trailer doesn’t work for me.
AND SO IT GOES (Clarius) Genre: Romance. A curmudgeonly realtor just wants to sell one last home and retire but when his son drops off a precocious 9-year-old granddaughter he never knew he had, his outlook changes.. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.7 With Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in front of the camera and Rob Reiner behind it, this is bound to be worth a look.
I ORIGINS (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Science Fiction. During his research on the human eye, a molecular biologist makes a discovery that will have implications on our spiritual and basic scientific beliefs. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 An interesting take on science vs. spirituality.
MOOD INDIGO (Drafthouse) Genre: Fantasy. In order to save his love from the effects of a flower growing in her lungs, a wealthy bachelor must keep her surrounded by flowers while he develops a cure. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 The latest from French visionary Michel Gondry is bound to be visually inventive.
PERSECUTED (One Media) Genre: Thriller. Framed for murder, an evangelist goes underground to prove his innocence and stop the coming wave of persecution against American Christians. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 This is the Tea Party’s wet dream.
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (Disney) Genre: Animated Feature. Dusty Crophopper, facing retirement from racing due to a damaged engine, decides that he’d like to devote his life to fighting brush fires as an aerial firefighter. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 3.2 The first film was better than I thought it would be; it won’t take much for the second to make the same achievement.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Universal) Genre: Horror. The new Founding Fathers of America invite you to purge your sociopathic tendencies as innocents get caught in the crossfire. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Last year’s surprise hit gets a sequel with new cast and bigger budget; could be worth a look.
SEX TAPE (Columbia) Genre: Sex Comedy. In the aftermath of making a sex tape to spice up their love lives, a couple frantically must hunt down all the tablets they gave away as gifts when the tape is accidentally uploaded to the cloud that each tablet is preloaded with. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 From director Jake Kasdan who has proven adept at comedy.
VIDEO GAMES: THE MOVIE (Variance) Genre: Documentary. The epic rise of video games from niche business to multi-billion dollar industry. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 My son is absolutely going to go bananas for this one, produced as it is by his hero Zach Braff.
WISH I WAS HERE (Focus) Genre: Dramedy. A man at the crossroads of his life decides to redefine his performance as a son, a husband, a brother and a father. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expanding July 25 and August 1). RATING: 1.9 Zach Braff continues on the road to redefining his career.

JULY 23, 2014

THE MASTER BUILDER (Abramorama) Genre: Drama. In the twilight of his life, an architect who has bullied his family, friends, mistresses and employees seeks to make peace with himself. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Starring Wallace Shawn and based on an Ibsen play, this could be a film buff’s wet dream.

JULY 25, 2014

A MOST WANTED MAN (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Thriller. When a half-Chechen, half-Russian man who has been tortured nearly to death arrives in the Islamic community of a Russian city, his arrival brings chaos into the lives of a banker, a lawyer and a master spy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 A John Le Carre spy story that has one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last performances – that has must-see written all over it.
BENEATH (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. Supernatural forces are unleashed during the collapse of a coal mine, leaving the trapped miners and a female environmentalist trapped with them to battle for their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Claustrophobic horror with a tinge of creature feature.
THE FLUFFY MOVIE (Open Road) Genre: Stand-Up Concert Film. Excerpts from Gabriel Iglesias’ “Unity Through Laughter” tour. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 Iglesias emerged after a tough break eliminated him from Last Comic Standing to become one of the most popular stand-up comedians today.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS (Magnolia) Genre: Dramedy. Moving in with her novelist friend, her film director husband and their two-year-old after a break-up, a hard-partying 20-something starts to turn their lives upside down. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 The latest from prolific director Joe Swanberg.
HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) Genre: Swords and Sandals. A legendary warrior tries to escape his own legend. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.9 Based on a graphic novel with a revisionist non-supernatural take on the myth.
IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD (XLRator) Genre: Action. One of the few survivors of the Siege of Rochester Castle returns home to defend his family against brutal Celtic raiders. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Medieval histrionics that would have been a B movie 50 years ago and still is today.
LUCY (Universal) Genre: Science Fiction. An unwilling drug mules finds the side effects of the drug that leaks into her system to be limitless. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.2 Looks like one of Luc Besson’s best and with Scarlett Johansson in the title role? Ooh La LA!
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Focus) Genre: Romance. In the South of France during the Jazz Age, an English detective is brought in to unmask a swindler. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Woody Allen does Agatha Christie.
MY MAN IS A LOSER (Lionsgate) Genre: Comedy. After a ladies man’s advice to his buddies to reconnect with their wives backfires horribly, a straight shooting friend proves that the Lothario has a lot to learn when it comes to the fairer sex. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 John Stamos as a modern single ladies man…talk about dated.
VERY GOOD GIRLS (Tribeca/Well Go USA) Genre: Sex Comedy. Two young women who make a pact to lose their virginity during the summer before they head to college fall for the same guy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Anyone remember Little Foxes?

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Deliver Us From Evil, Earth to Echo, Tammy, Life Itself, Boyhood, And So It Goes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Fluffy Movie, Planes: Fire and Rescue, The Purge: Anarchy, Sex Tape, Wish I Was Here, Hercules, Lucy