Today I watched a very interesting movie, which had the tagline “inspired by the actual accounts of NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie”. Now statements like that attached to movies could mean there was just inspiration or it was based on actual events.
I haven’t read the source book in this case, 2001’s “Beware The Night” (co-written by Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool), but imagine it’s more a case of the former than the latter. Having initially become involved in demonology cases whilst a serving NYPD officer, where he had worked for nearly twenty years, Sarchie in 2004, since when he has been working exclusively on supernatural cases
The movie in question, “Deliver Us From Evil”, released in 2014, is an American made supernatural horror film, directed by Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism Of Emily Rose”, “Sinister”).
The film opens with in Iraq in 2010 where, after a firefight in a palm grove, three U.S. soldiers discover and enter an underground cave. Their helmet camera feed goes black as someone starts to scream.
We then switch to the Bronx, New York, three years later where Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana – “Deadfall”, “Hanna”) is working with his partner Butler (Joel McHale – “Adult Beginners”). They decide to take over a call for a different unit, to a domestic disturbance involving a former Marine, Jimmy (Chris Coy – “Hostel Part III”) because Sarchie’s “radar” is going off.
Sarchie has a wife, Jen (Olivia Munn – “Mortdecai”, “Magic Mike”) and young daughter, Christina, who he has been neglecting through the pressures of his work.
Soon after the domestic disturbance call Sarchie crosses paths with a seemingly deranged mother, Jane Crenna (Olivia Horton – “The Enemy Within”) who has thrown her toddler into a moat surrounding the lion enclosure at the Bronx zoo, and who is bizarrely reciting the words to “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” by The Doors as she scrabble at the ground with her fingertips.
Following this, Sarchie comes into contact with Crenna’s Jesuit priest Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez – “Domino”, “Vantage Point”), who suggests that there is more going on than simply human evil.
Further events occur, introducing two more former Marines, David Griggs (Scott Johnsen – “The Drop”) and Santino (Sean Harris – “’71”, “A Lonely Place To Die”) who have been working as painters.
As Sarchie investigates with Mendoza’s help, he uncovers hidden writings that appear to be a mixture of Christian and Pagan theology.
I thought this was a really well plotted story, with plenty of things thrown into the mix to add to the experience – including strange sounds and hallucinations that only Sarchie experiences, a guilty secret, Latin, surreal references to The Doors songs, and a vaguely sinister stuffed owl.
Both Bana and Ramírez portray their respective characters really well, and I felt that Harris was outstanding as the malevolent Santino. He didn’t have a lot to work with, certainly not in the dialogue stakes, but was extremely convincing.
So, regardless of how much – or as is likely, how little – of the true life source book was included in the script for this film, it is a genuinely dark and gripping story and makes for an excellent two hours viewing…