There's actually a not-half-bad domestic heart beating in the exorcism-procedural (now there's a genre for ya) Deliver Us From Evil, when the movie feels like going there. Save a wobbly accent from Eric Bana I bought into his sweet but tortured home-life with an excellent Olivia Munn - once again, as with Magic Mike, she's prying the focus off from a crowd of sexy menfolk with all the effort she can muster and actually, against all the odds, succeeding. Watching her giggle and snort as the hot geek girl on G4 all those years ago I never would've guessed we had a fine actress staring back at us, but here we are. I hope somebody else is noticing.
So for the first hour or so DUFE wasn't exactly reinventing the Catherine Wheel or anything, but there was something to it that was keeping me along for the bumpy ride, and it wasn't just Munn or Eric Bana's astonishingly vast array of astonishingly well-fitted t-shirts. It was ripping off much better movies (David Fincher's Seven could sue) sure, but thanks to that homebound heart and a not-uninteresting mystery involving a group of soldiers coming home from the war fundamentally changed (a solid premise for a horror movie's theme, for sure) I was in.
So I was sad when the film's last hour swerved off straight to Shitsville (Population: every exorcism movie not called The Exorcist). As giddy a thrill as I got seeing Edgar Ramirez make googly eyes up and down Eric Bana (seriously, watch the way Edgar watches Eric and tell me he wasn't pushing an agenda the movie sadly had no interest in), Edgar's whole proper thunk down into the story is like a lead balloon.
When I saw the first trailer for the movie I said something along the lines of (and I'm paraphrasing myself here) "Director Scott Derrickson just doesn't seem to find scary the same things I find scary" - I felt that when his last movie Sinister devolved into a junky ghost-kids mess and here that same sense of incompatible agendas is rearing its head once again. Once DUFE (god I love that acronym) descends into an endless series of scenes of characters screeching devil chants back and forth it might think that it's dancing with the demons in the pale moonlight, but I was unmoved, standing over to the side tapping my watch willing it spin itself around like a tween's possessed noggin. One man's "Putting the Hell in the movie-going experience" is, well, another man's slightly different same.