Friday, April 24, 2015

"Deliver Us from Evil" (2014)

As a horror film, “Deliver” is too tame. It doesn’t induce much fear in spite of the gore and the evil on display. As a mystery, cop story, it is a little slim on plot and motivation driving the action forward. However, all of that is due to the true motivation behind the movie. It wants to be a thoughtful piece about good and evil and the reality of the supernatural in the world.

I have followed Scott Derrickson’s career with interest, catching all of his films in spite of the fact that I am often dissatisfied with the results. That is due to the fact that he is a believer who takes seriously the idea of using his art to share his worldview. Never in a preachy way, but always consciously and seriously.

A quote I read in another article about this movie had Derrickson saying the following:

“There’s a misconception people have—that people only believe in the supernatural because they have a religious dogma that says it exists,” says Derrickson. “Actually, the opposite is true—people believe in the supernatural because of what they’ve seen and experienced. It’s people with the hard skeptical belief that there’s only the material world that have the dogma. They hear all these stories and dismiss every single one of them based on their beliefs.”

Unfortunately, Derrickson’s approach through the horror genre takes the typical approach of discussing the reality of the supernatural by focusing on evil. Here, he expands away from that with the character of Mendoza, the priest. He has Mendoza talking about goodness, sacrifice, forgiveness, and the need to acknowledge sin. It just doesn’t quite ever make it to Christ. In the end, the Catholicism—and the faith worldview—on display here is a religious one. Symbolism and words are emphasized in a ritualistic/formulaic way more than the relational, dependence on the person of Jesus Christ way. But it is a step in a good direction.

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