Edgar Ramirez in Deliver Us From Evil

Edgar Ramirez in Deliver Us From Evil

Deliver Us From Evil opens today (7/2/14) and will “deliver” an R-rated supernatural thriller that combines a perfect blend of faith, redemption and the sheer horror of evil.  It is the real -life horror and conversion story of New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (played brilliantly by Eric Bana).

Sarchie is a fallen-away Catholic with a young believing family who leaves him at home to attend Sunday Mass because Sarchie tells them, “he doesn’t believe in fairytales”.  Based on actual events, the rough and tough Sarchie begins to investigate a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes in the Bronx, New York.  He joins forces with an unconventional Jesuit priest Father Joe Mendoza (Edgar Ramírez) and comes to believe in the power of God after dealing with a threat to his young family and a gruesome exorcism involving a clearly possessed man.

The Jerry Bruckheimer film Deliver Us From Evil teams up with Director Scott Derrickson, whose The Exorcism of Emily Rose was highly regarded for its serious treatment of the phenomenon of demonic possession and exorcism.

I had a chance to talk about the movie with the Derrickson, Bruckheimer and the cast of Deliver us from Evil last month in Hollywood and to see a sneak preview of the film.  Making the film changed many cast members minds’ about whether the Devil is real (see sidebar article).  Director Scott Derrickson told me he believes people need to take the power of Satan seriously.

deliver-us-from-evil-poster-w300“I do think that exorcisms are something people need to take seriously,” said Derrickson.  “Religious faith is a subject that a lot of people don’t want to talk about, because it raises questions of morality, ethics, the afterlife, how we are supposed to live.”

“Whatever your beliefs,” said awarding-winning producer Jerry Bruckheimer, “there are some phenomena which cannot be entirely explained by science or medicine. Deliver Us From Evil explores the gray areas which may or may not be supernatural or paranormal.  If you are already a believer, then this movie will confirm what you know.  And if you are not, then this story is perhaps food for thought.”

Actor Eric Bana said he was drawn to play the role of the real-life New York police officer Ralph Sarchie in Deliver Us From Evil because he saw something in Derrickson’s previous work which transcended the horror genre. “I like the fact that Sarchie was this really tough guy, an experienced street cop in the Bronx who doesn’t believe in God or the Devil, who thinks everything in the world can be explained.  His whole life and belief system is turned upside down when he realizes there is a supernatural world.”

As Sarchie initially tells Father Mendoza in the movie, “as a cop, I have seen some horrible things, but nothing that can’t be explained by human nature.”

Father Ramirez replies, “then you have not seen true evil.  There are two types of evil in this life, Sargent Sarchie.  Secondary evil, the evil that men do.  And primary evil, which is something else entirely…that is true evil.”

Perhaps the most unorthodox casting in Deliver Us From Evil is Joel McHale as Ralph Sarchie’s cop partner.  For years, McHale has kept TV audiences cracking up as the witty host of E!’s The Soup and star of the NBC hit show, Community.  Turns out McHale and Derrickson are good friends in real life and as McHale pointed out, “It was a thrill for me to work on this movie, I am still pinching myself.  Besides Scott knew that I had a lot of dirt on him, photos, recordings and I told him I would expose him if I did not get this part…(trails off laughing).”

The film takes its title from the closing words of the “Our Father” prayer that Christians have been saying for over 2,000 years.  Most of us will go through our lives and never see the kind of pure evil or demonic possession portrayed in this movie.  Having an evil spirit take possession of your body and touch your soul is a terror all of us would want to be delivered from.

The movie has intense sequences of an actual exorcism which, although is realistic, gives the movie its R-rating.  The film is neither for the faint of heart, nor for kids younger than 17, but it will appeal to those who like fictional horror or zombie films.   The storyline that ties the different pieces together is fictional, but the sequences of evil and the exorcism in the movie are based on real things that happened to Sargent Sarchie.  For me it was best supernatural thriller I have ever seen.  Combines a perfect blend of faith, redemption and the sheer horror of evil.  It is a real -life horror story that dare I say, DELIVERS.

Deliver Us From Evil is rated (R).

Conversion of the Cast of Deliver Us From Evil

Cast of Deliver Us From Evil

Cast of Deliver Us From Evil

Hollywood is not known as a faithful community of believers.  However, at least for the cast of the new movie Deliver Us From Evil, making the film has changed them into a cast of believers.

Last month I had a chance to see a sneak preview of the Sony/Screen Gems, Jerry Bruckheimer film Deliver Us From Evil directed by Scott Derrickson.  I talked to the cast members the next day.  Each one of them told a similar story of being a wishy-washy person of faith and now, after being involved in the film, have come to a stronger belief in God and the Devil.

Eric Bana who plays the real-life Sargent Ralph Sarchie said to prepare for the movie he spent time talking to Sarchie on the set and also watched some of the videotaped real-life exorcisms that the movie is based upon.  “Yeah it is hard not to watch those videos and not be affected by them.  I didn’t need to see them twice, once was enough for me.  They were very hard to watch.”

Olivia Munn who plays the wife of Sarchie was warned by Bana not to watch the videos because they were so gruesome and evil.  Munn told me, “Eric was right, it was the scariest thing I have ever seen.  I was raised Christian but along the way, as life happens sometimes, I stopped believing.  I made this movie as a non-believer and then I watched this footage and I am a 100% believer now.”

Edgar Ramirez, who plays the fictional Jesuit Father Mendoza, was raised as a Catholic in Venezuela.  Ramirez said in his conversations with exorcists in preparation for the movie, “I found that you need to be afraid of pure evil.  We all have to battle evil.  The evil inside us all and the evil outside of us.”

And Joel McHale the star of the NBC-TV comedy Community provides the comic relief in an otherwise dark and gruesome movie.  “I listened to some of the exorcism tapes, they are terrifying to just hear.  I think this part of the spiritual world is mysterious and creepy.  And these kind of movies draw people in, even those who pretend to not be spiritual.”

There is no pretending that the R-rating is deserved and you should not bring children under 17 (and maybe even some over 17 if they are squeamish) to see this movie.  But if we need a reminder that there is evil in our world and there is a war for souls, then Deliver Us From Evil delivers.

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