Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review - Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

There's a lot of pretty crappy horror movies out there.  And by pretty crappy, I mean, poor production values, shitty camera work, bad dialogue, and horrible acting.  But even those movies can be entertaining sometimes.

Deliver Us From Evil (2014) is a movie with good production values.  What the shit does good production values even mean?  Hell if I know.  Let's put it this way.  They got veteran actors (if not necessarily good ones), they had good camera work, and there was a halfway decent plot.  And they spent a few bucks on special effects.  This movie is the story about a couple cops who get a domestic disturbance call and end up stumbling into a weird series of supernatural events.

I think it's a bad sign when I can sum up a movie in one sentence.  This was a well-made movie.  A lot of attention was paid to scary effects, some demonic-looking makeup, and some fairly decent fight scenes.  Eric Bana (I know him from his stint as Dr. Banner in the 2003 Hulk movie with Jennifer Connelly) plays the lead, and there's a supporting cast of at least a few people, including Olivia Munn (recently of Newsroom 2.0 fame) playing his wife.  I think this movie was one of those movies that might have been really good, if only they'd done just one thing perfectly.  Instead, what you've got here is a collection of things that are fairly well-done, but don't add up to more than the sum of their parts.

Let me give you some examples.  There's a scene where this demonic presence is stalking this little girl.  And her toys are doing that whole demonic possession thing that toys do.  There's this particularly creepy scene where the jack-in-the-box is playing Pop goes the weasel, while a stuffed animal of some kind slowly rolls towards the little girl while she watches.  I was a little creeped out, but then, they basically resort to kidnapping the little girl and it turns into a hunt for the kidnapper.  Way to ruin the whole supernatural factor.

I guess what this is, is a particularly well-done collection of demonic possession clichees that you have seen before, rolled into a semi-coherent plot.  The plot by itself is fairly decent, and a lot of attention is paid to the various scenes involved.  There's even some pretty good suspense early on.  After that, the movie kind of falls apart.  There's nothing new here.  Is it rewatchable?  Yea, sure.  It's entertaining if you like demonic possession movies, or cop movies, or a mix of the two.  However, it is pretty forgettable, too.  Nothing really stands out as exceptional.

Bonus Review:  Hellbenders (2012).  This movie is about a bunch of priests who band together and use a loophole in the rules of demonic possession to send demons to hell.  Basically, they sin.  I know, that's thinking out of the box, right?  They sin, they drink, they swear, they behave badly.  Because they are going to hell.  In fact, in a sort of suicide-bomber attitude, they think if they sin enough, that they will be more attractive to demons who are possessing otherwise innocent victims.  So here's how this shit works.  The priests sin.  They get called to perform an exorcism.  They invite the demon inside themselves, and then... They commit suicide, thus dragging the demon's spirit to hell along with their own soul.  Technically, if you follow the convoluted logic of religion and sin, it's a fairly flawless method of exorcism.  No demon can resist possessing a priest, and the priest's soul is automatically damned to hell for taking his own life.  Once the possessed body dies, the demon's spirit is banished back to hell.  VOILA!

Clancy Brown, one of my all-time favorite under-appreciated actors, actually STARS in Hellbenders.  Which, is awesome (not the movie, that Clancy Brown actually stars in something).  He plays a drunken priest who is literally going to hell, whenever he dies, because he sins so much on a daily basis that there is no way that heaven would accept him.  And he's fine with that, as long as he takes a demon down to hell with him.  The other priests in his Hellbenders unit (squad?  group?  cadre?  I don't know!) are lazy, misanthropic dorks who try to be as good at sinning as Clancy Brown, but alas, they fall short.  Then, sadly, Surtur, the Norse Fire-God that invokes Ragnarok, the end of the world, begins to rise again.  Bibles don't really work on Norse demons, and the whole team has to step up their game to stop the end of the world.  Even while the catholic church is trying to shut down the whole group.

Hellbenders is NOT one of those high-production-value movies.  I am pretty sure the cast was actually drinking while they made this movie.  They certainly acted pretty drunk, which actually worked.  I'm not sure whether this movie was supposed to be a comedy, or a serious attempt at an anti-religious look at the bad logic of the rules of possession, but I found it entertaining.  Probably not enough to watch twice, but it wasn't too bad the first time around.  Robyn Rikoon (never heard of her before in my life) plays a female priest, one of the first I have ever seen.  And, she's pretty hot.  Either because she's playing a female priest, or just because she's hot, I am not quite sure.

So, to sum up, watch both movies at least once, because they aren't bad.  Deliver Us from Evil is currently playing on Starz! and Hellbenders is playing on Showtime Beyond.  You'll probably enjoy deliver us from Evil more if you like to be scared, and Hellbenders more if you like a good laugh.

In other news, Daylight Savings time kicked into effect on sunday.  Just as John Oliver asked in his weekly news show on HBO sunday night, "How is This Still a Thing?"  I honestly don't know.  I was watching the news last week friday when my local newscaster announced that the clocks would be turning ahead in two days, and she said "The day is an hour longer," which it's not.  Every day is 24 hours long.  They don't get longer, no matter what time of year it is.  And then she corrected herself, and said "We get an hour more of daylight,."  Which, is also completely untrue.  We don't get an hour more of daylight, either, just because we set our clocks ahead an hour.  The sun still rises and sets at the usual intervals.

Now if she had said, "we lose an hour of sleep on sunday morning," then that might have been true, but even that's debatable.  Here's what also happens when we lose an hour of sleep.  Not only are we all tired, but we're all basically suffering from an hour of jet lag.  Ever had jet lag?  It sucks.  Let me tell you what jet lag does.  They took a bunch of stewardesses (flight attendants, whatever), and had them do some mental evaluation tests.  The ones who typically flew in the same time zone, generally had about average intelligence.  The ones who routinely flew across the country, changing time zones on a daily basis?  They registered at around retard level.  True story, actual scientific results that tell you jet lag, or the resetting of your body's internal clock, basically messes up your brain so bad that it kills your ability to reason.  And that's totally in addition to the normal effects the week after DST kicks in.  Proven facts, people have more car accidents.  They also die more often of heart attacks this week.  I think I also heard that people die in hospitals more, the week after the clocks change.  So enjoy your spike in accidental deaths every time you change your clocks.

Personally, I don't really get it.  Supposedly, it was invented around the time of WW2 to save oil or some shit, but I don't get that.  Regardless of whether it was effective then or not, it's certainly not having much effect on our economy now, except to make us all more prone to accidental death in a number of ways for about a week.  As well as making us all stupider by giving us all jet lag twice a year.  According to John Oliver's newscast about this, it was actually invented by the Nazis, so why we're all still clinging to it as if it makes sense, I really don't know.

I can only personally say two things about daylight savings time.  One, whenever I have to change my clocks, it makes me goddamn sleepy for about a week.  Second, in the summer, if we didn't have DST, the sun would probably be rising about 5 am.  Which, does sound way too damn early, but by no means makes up for the whole "making me more likely to die of a heart attack twice a year" deal.  I'm pretty sure all of us in the States complain about having to change our clocks twice a year, and there's a fair number of other countries that do it too.  So why do we still do it?  I got nothin.  Moving on.

Yet another Friday the 13th coming up!  And I'm back to reviewing horror in my blog, instead of action movies.  Spring on the way.  I think things are looking up around here. :-)  Catch you guys in a few days with a Friday the 13th horror review.  If I have time.

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