Deliver Us (2023) Review
I usually don’t pay too much attention to what the church has to say, but then The Catholic Review referred to Deliver Us as “A blast furnace of blasphemy” and continued, saying that “Deliver Us” (Magnet), also is an amalgam of gore and nudity.” How could I pass up a film that came so highly recommended?
It certainly opens on a bloody note as a row of kneeling men and women are killed and skinned for the elaborate tattoos on their backs. In a remote Russian convent Sister Yulia (Maria Vera Ratti, Inspector Ricciardi, Miss Marx) awakes from a nightmare of the killings and finds she’s showing the signs of the Stigmata. Even more shocking, she’s pregnant with twins, and still a virgin.
Laura (Juane Kimmel, Kids of the Night, Take It or Leave It) is also pregnant, but there’s nothing immaculate about it. The father is Father Fox played by Lee Roy Kunz (Boys of Abu Ghraib, Delirium) who co-directed with first time helmer Cru Ennis. He wants to leave the priesthood and marry Laura, instead he’s sent to investigate Sister Yulia’s case along with Father Saul (Thomas Kretschmann, Last Sentinel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) and Cardinal Russo (Alexander Siddig, Skylines, Baby Mine).
As well as starring and co-writing Deliver Us, Lee Roy Kunz also co-wrote it with his brother Kane with whom he also wrote his first film, A Beer Tale. They quickly throw Fox, and the viewer into the midst of a deadly conspiracy rooted in an ancient prophecy that The Messiah and The Antichrist will be born as twins and a secret order within the church, The Vox Dei or Voice of God, determined to prevent the child of Satan from being born, even if it means aborting The Second Coming.
The basic plot of Deliver Us is something along the lines of The Omen films, To the Devil a Daughter, and The Chosen aka Holocaust 2000 as various factions within the church work for good or evil and people begin meeting bloody ends. And on that level it’s quite a bit of fun, with some gruesome moments and several effective jump scares.
The nudity isn’t quite as frequent as the quote from The Catholic Review makes it seem but there is a fair amount. That includes a steamy scene where Yulia and Fox simultaneously dream about doing the nasty in front of an altar, a scene I’m pretty sure also adds to the film’s blasphemy count.
The Brothers Kunz however aren’t just making a surface deep horror film. Deliver Us also deals with themes of faith, fate, good and evil as well as human nature. It’s not as successful there however. It never feels like it gets more than a superficial grip on these issues, using them as plot devices rather than really exploring them.
Cinematographer Isaac Bauman (Haunting of the Queen Mary, Bloodline) does a great job of capturing the inherent creepiness of the old, run down convent as well as the beauty of the Estonian landscape as scene from a distance and the more sinister feel of being deep in its woods. Tóti Guðnason (Lamb, Cold Copy) provides a score that compliments those creepy feelings nicely.
The performances are all good, although Kunz occasionally feels a bit flat, as if he was distracted by his role as director and lost his focus. He and Ratti however have great chemistry that helps to distract from that and help sell the further confliction of an already conflicted character.
By the time Deliver Us delivers its bloody rollercoaster of a finale most viewers won’t care about that though. They’ll be too busy trying to guess if anyone will be left standing when the credits roll or if Armageddon is upon us. As long as you don’t take it too seriously you should have plenty of fun.
Deliver Us is available on Digital Platforms via Magnet Releasing, it will be available on DVD on January 19th.