Whether you're a believer or not, there's no debating that Catholic-based horror films are a trend sweeping over mainstream Hollywood. The latest movie to continually challenge skeptic's beliefs about the presence of good and evil comes in the form of an upcoming horror-thriller that's based off a true story. But that's only one of the two most surprising aspects of [Deliver Us From Evil](movie:739915).
If you live in a metropolitan area, then at this point you've caught a glimpse of the billboards touting the tagline "Inspired by actual accounts of an NYPD sergeant," a sentence that can easily make any eager viewer's skin tingle with goosebumps. Deliver Us From Evil centers on the police sergeant (Eric Bana) as he teams up with a priest (Édgar Ramírez) in order to help solve a series of abnormal crimes.
When we first spoke to Jerry Bruckheimer about the upcoming release, he revealed that this picture has been in development for nearly a decade (!!). Director Scott Derrickson (the new director of [Doctor Strange](movie:559685)) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have plugged away for quite a while, making sure that the story was perfect for the big screen. Now that we're close to the release date, I got the chance to speak with the creative team on translating the story of Deliver Us From Evil into this film.
This appears to be the first horror film that's appeared in your collection in a while. What was it that generally attracted you to this?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It was the book. It caught my attention. It's a true story and I love true stories. It's part procedural and part paranormal thriller. We know the procedural part. We've done a lot of that on our television shows. It was exciting to get Scott (Derrickson) involved. He wrote the original screenplay for it based on the book, and then he disappeared for awhile and worked on it for another 8 years. Then he came back and he was the one who directed it. It took ten years to get this off the ground.
In working with Derrickson, did you go on set at all?
Jerry Bruckheimer: I was there a number of times. I got soaking wet. I had to get my rain gear out from the old Pirate shoots when it was raining in the Caribbean. It rained the entire month of June in the Bronx in New York. It was the rainiest June ever recorded in history in New York, and we filmed that entire month. So it was wet and cold and warm and just constantly wet.
What do you think audiences will be attracted to the most with Deliver Us From Evil?
Jerry Bruckheimer: It's a real story. It's a true story. It's really intense. It's really scary and it's really a good movie. If you come from the world of faith, it will reaffirm your faith. It's that intense and kind of uplifting if you believe in these kind of things.
When it comes to horror-thriller movies such as this, when you go and sit down and watch films like this, how long can you sit down before--
Jerry Bruckheimer: I don't watch these kind of movies. I've seen "The Exorcist" and I've seen "Poltergeist" and I saw "Psycho," but that's about it. I'm not an afficiando on these types of movies. Procedural part I get, but that's what Scott does. Scott lives this. He was a theology student, understands the faith-based part of this and he certainly knows every horror director, every film made that is in the genre, so he's the expert and certainly did a great job directing it.
Then I got the chance to chat with director Scott Derrickson about the long process of bringing Deliver Us From Evil to the big screen.
So you're familiar with the book. Was it just one of those situations where you happened to stumble upon it one day or what?
Scott Derrickson: Jerry [Bruckheimer] bought the book and was looking for someone to adapt it. I got involved with it in 2004, so I wrote the first draft of the script way back then. It was actually the real Ralph, when I went back to New York to meet him and do research with him, he was the one who gave me the non-fiction book "The Exorcism of Analese Michelle" which became the movie "The Exorcism of Emily Rose."
Are you a heavy skeptic, especially considering a lot of the main topics that you have to deal with in your films are very faith-based?
Scott Derrickson: I mean certainly when I went into -- I have a degree in religious philosophy, so I take the subject matter seriously. When I went into "Emily Rose," I went into it very open-mindedly and I really wanted to see what kind of evidence there was for it and whether or not on a purely practical, physical, logical level did I think this phenomenon was real. I definitely came out the other side of that, even more so with this movie, thinking that it is real. Exorcisms are a fact -- they happen often, and I think there's a lot of things that I've seen that are too inexplicable to dismiss. I think a lot of times people think that in order to believe in something like this, you have to have a predisposition toward it religiously, and that's not true. A lot of people are like me; they believe in it because of what they've seen and what they've heard. A lot of people believe in ghosts because they've seen a ghost or know someone credible who's seen a ghost, and that's a form of evidence. So on that front, yeah, it's a real phenomenon.
You've got all of these fantastic actors in Deliver Us From Evil. What was the casting process like, and was it fairly easy?
Scott Derrickson: No. Getting actors of that quality to do a film with this kind of subject matter is not easy. They have to love the script first, and once I got Eric (Bana) it made it interesting towards other actors. That always helps that when you get a lead who's an actor that's admired as he is... but each one of them took a certain kind of convincing, and each one of them had certain questions about the script. Each one of them contributed into making the movie better and their characters better, Edgar (Ramirez) in particular. The first draft that Edgar read, he didn't say yes to that script. I met with him about it, we talked for a long time at a 3 or 4 hour lunch about what could make the character better, and before he signed on to do the movie, I did a complete rewrite based on my conversations with Edgar and what could make the character more interesting. The movie would not be as good as it is if Edgar hadn't done that.
When it comes to filming particularly terrifying scenes, has there ever been a moment on set with this film where, even though you're expecting it, the delivery is so great that you're startled?
Scott Derrickson: This actor that's in the movie, Sean Harris, who's not here today, he has quite a few scenes that I found just absolutely harrowing while we were shooting, surprisingly so. He went just so far with the role and his choices and his preparation for it. Yeah, he's really scary.
When it comes to films like these, especially ones that are based off true stories, what do you hope that audiences generally take away from it?
Scott Derrickson: I hope first of all they're entertained. People pay their hard-earned money to go and see a movie. In cases like this, they want to see an entertaining story that's scary and interesting. I hope for that first and foremost. After that, I hope that the ideas of the movie sit with them for awhile. That it maybe opens their minds up a bit. When you hear about people not being able to sleep after seeing your movie, that's always satisfying. That's always a good sign.
Deliver Us From Evil is out in theaters nationwide on July 2, 2014.