It's a good thing the Canadian summer days are bright and long because there are demonic forces lurking in every shadow of Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Deliver Us From Evil, a horror/police procedural that opens Friday at the Village 8.
Trying to suck a little extra life (money) from the tagline "inspired by the actual accounts of a NYPD sergeant," this flick pushes the "based on true" lie/marketing gimmick about as far as possible without becoming parody and while liberties were taken, perhaps they weren't taken far enough.
Deliver Us From Evil follows cop/occult investigator Eric Bana (Munich, Hanna) and his gung-ho, knife-fighting partner as they investigate a series of mysterious calls in which deranged individuals scratch things till their fingers bleed and mumble spooky non sequiturs and Jim Morrison lyrics. Enter some demonic hallucinations, a hard-drinking priest and a decent string of jump scares and creepy atmosphere that never quite materialize into the pant-filling fear of demonic possession flicks like The Exorcist or even The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which was directed by the same dude who made this one.
Despite its overall shortcomings, Deliver Us From Evil is the first horror flick of the summer, and Bana is never terrible, so this one is worth a shot if you are bored and a fan of that which goes bump in the night. For a real "based-on-true" horror movie find the 2006 documentary Deliver Us From Evil about a Catholic priest named Oliver O'Grady, who raped and molested at least 25 children over two decades in Northern California. The film presents plenty of evidence that points to the fact that not only did the Catholic Church know about O'Grady's heinous crimes, but it also attempted to conceal them and moved him from town to town rather than deal with the problem. This is what real evil looks like.
Also opening at the Village 8, on a way, way lighter note, Tammy stars Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Bridesmaids) as an all-American, quasi-criminal screw-up who has a shitty day and a cheating husband, so she embarks on some kind of rarely funny Thelma and Louise-style road trip with her grandmother (played by Susan Sarandon from the real Thelma and Louise). In a twist you never see coming, Tammy finds herself on the open road and gets her life straightened out. Or something... I haven't seen it but from the trailer Tammy doesn't look very funny or emotionally connecting. View this one at your own risk.
The real tragedy here is that Hollywood is absolutely terrible at supporting female-driven films or making flicks with strong female roles. After a bit of success over the past few years Melissa McCarthy is now shouldering much of the chick-comedy load with kind of one-note performances based on gross-out humour and fat jokes. When Tammy flops, the Hollywood execs will be that much more tentative to back the next (probably better) female comedian and the circle of suckery and imbalance will continue. Where is the next Sarah Silverman or Ana Farris? She's out there, but Hollywood isn't looking.
Speaking of imbalance, filmmaker/sociology professor Garry Potter's new documentary Whispers of Revolution is available online for free. It's mash-up of footage/photos/messages from worldwide demonstration and protests that touches on everything from the inequality of wealth, to religious zealots, to environmental struggles to hactivitsts like Anonymous. That Whispers of Revolution only offers a one-sided perspective doesn't make it any less pertinent and there's validity in the message that all these revolutions around the globe are tied into "one struggle to create a better world".