Scott Derrickson is one of the few directors in Hollywood who is a Christian and you can see what effect that has on his films. Hellraiser: Inferno, one of my favorite horror films, which he wrote and directed, gave one of the most straight forward message of the Gospel I have ever seen in a movie. The Exorcism of Emily Rose was profoundly pro-Christian and what the fight against evil means. Even Sinister tried to take a hard look at what evil is and questioned if it could be stopped. So it was no wonder that his next film would be about faith vs. skepticism and good vs. evil.
Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is a NYPD officer who works in one of the toughest burrows in New York. He is haunted by many of his past and current cases of violence and horror. His latest case seems to be one he has never dealt with before because it of its odd nature of having men who returned from Iraq going crazy and hurting people. He soon meets a priest (Edgar Ramirez) who tells him that he believes this case to be one of true evil that needs to be dealt with by faith and exorcism. While his family (Olivia Munn as his wife) increasingly feels the danger around them, Sarchie tries to find the last man (Sean Harris) possessed by a demon, which he doesn’t believe is possible.
The look of the film is great as it feels as dark and cold as the story that it tells. The acting is good to decent and the always welcome Joel McHale does a good job as the tough partner with an adrenaline addiction. I like Eric Bana as an actor, but he seems like he held a little too much back with this role. Most times he feels distant and uninterested with his part. Edgar Ramirez on the other hand, plays his character confidently and with some zeal and is the better part of the film. Secondary characters like Olivia Munn and Sean Harris feel underdeveloped, but still do a good job with their roles.
A very interesting and great debate is brought up during the film, it just isn’t long enough to satisfy the viewer. When the problem of evil is brought up as a problem for belief in God, the priest asks about the problem of good. Why is there any good? Great theological/philosophical question that had a great set up but no pay off. The whole movie, unfortunately, seems like this great set up with no real pay off. What we are shown is evil throughout the film but then the ending shows good triumphing, yet it feels like a footnote to the rest of the story. Even with this, it must be appreciated, especially by Christians, which the Christian faith (even if it is from a Catholic viewpoint) is shown positively and respectfully. Men of faith are shown as they truly are, fallible and still struggling with the sins of the flesh. Rare but always welcome depiction.
Also, finally we see a movie that depicts every song the Doors created the way I always thought of them when I hear them, creepy. It’s a good time waster that had some strong potential that was regrettably wasted
2 stars out of 4