Director Scott Derrickson on how the memoir-inspired Deliver Us From Evil goes beyond demonic possession
Mhe gory and hard-hitting scenes in the trailer of Deliver Us From Evil will make you cringe. Directed by Scott Derrickson, this movie is inspired by Beware the Night, a memoir that describes cop Ralph Sarchie’s time as a sergeant in the New York City Police Department. The story reflects the life of the dedicated cop who works in the South Bronx, where he finds a case of paranormal activity. A devout Catholic, Sarchie soon encounters several cases of possession and, through him, Derrickson shows his love for the horror genre (he had previously made Exorcism of Emily Rose) yet again. The movie has actors like Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez and Olivia Munn. More from him:
When did you first hear about the book Beware The Night by Ralph Sarchie?
I first heard about the book in 2004. Shortly after Jerry Bruckheimer had optioned it, I was hired to write the script. I was not involved at that point as a director, but I did spend a few days with Sarchie. Then, nine years later, Clint Culpepper at Screen Gems (production house), asked me what I wanted to do next, and I told him that I had always wanted to make this movie that I wrote for Jerry.
It’s the same script?
No, it’s not the same script. I wrote the original draft in 2004, but there were three other writers that did a bunch of drafts after that. I knew it still needed a lot of work. So I did a major overhaul of the script, including a few small things from the other writers’ drafts.
You did The Exorcism of Emily Rose, about possessions and demons. So what did you change with this movie?
The possessed characters in this movie are different from those we have seen in possession movies before. It’s not the same old stuff. The possessed are more calculating and more purposeful, which I think is pretty interesting.
How did you choose your locations?
I have travelled a lot in my life and I know New York pretty well—and nothing is like The Bronx. It has its own textures and history, and there is a vibrant, dangerous quality to it. The four-six, where Sarchie was an undercover special ops cop for many years, was called “the most dangerous square mile in America” by the FBI, because that area had more violent crimes and more arrests than any other precinct in the country.
Is there any movie which inspired you for this film?
When Jerry (Bruckheimer) approached me about writing the original script, he said he wanted to make “Serpico meets The Exorcist” (laughs) and when I heard that, I thought, “That’s the greatest idea I’ve ever heard.” To combine a classic possession story with a classic cop procedural is a simple and brilliant idea.
Was it hard to bring this cast together, as it is exceptional?
Yeah. None of these actors was an easy sell. Eric in particular is very picky about what he does, so I met with him several times. And then Edgar Ramirez was the second real significant role to find. Once I locked in on Edgar, I honestly didn’t think anyone else could do it. Edgar helped me completely re-invent the character of Mendoza—but only after I actually rewrote the role and showed it to him did he agree to play the character.
Deliver Us From Evil is scheduled to release on September 26.