Deliver Us from Evil

2006 documentary

Rating: 13/20

Plot: Apparently, Catholic priests have been molesting children and the church has been covering it up for years. Who knew? Director Amy Berg finds herself a pedophile willing to speak on camera about his experiences with being shifted from parish to parish following molestation accusations.

She finds him and takes him to a park to interview him. A park just crawling with sexy little children. It's difficult for me to figure out why exactly. I guess she was more concerned with getting a nice shot of Father O'Grady leering at a little boy than just letting his words speak for themselves. Getting it all directly from the pedophile's mouth is really the only novel part about Deliver Us from Evil. This is all old news, right? This is just Amy Berg jumping at the chance to shock and awe with a documentary subject, finding herself a bad bad priest and a composer who isn't afraid to pour it on pretty thick and then pretty much letting the documentary make itself. Because there's not exactly anything new here. There's nothing about this that will help anybody heal or help solve the problem. It's shooting priests in a barrel, and although finding parents willing to cry their eyes out on camera makes for some pretty good documentary footage, it's all pretty pointless in the end. And speaking of parents, you get just as upset at the parents in the stories of these molested children as you do the criminal priests and the higher-ups who help cover it all up. Father O'Grady, by the way, seems mentally ill. I'm not real sure why he agreed to appear on camera anyway, but there seems to be something wrong with the guy's mind. Other than the insatiable urge to touch children, I mean. There's just something missing, and you can see it in his eyes. Don't get me wrong--the information in this documentary is important. I just really didn't like the film's style, organization, or length. It felt like a television expose that was twice the length, one that wasn't exactly organized in a way that enhanced the experience. It's like a color-by-numbers documentary that didn't quite know when to quit. I guess I can be happy after watching this that my mother quit being a Catholic before I was born and that I'm smart enough not to put my children in situations that are dangerous to them. Other than that, I'm not sure why I needed to watch this.


cory said...

Your reaction to this caught me by surprise, but then so did your take on "Talk of the Town". If anything, I would have guessed your grades would be reversed.

I wouldn't argue with your technique critique (loved putting those two words together), though I think the films' structure, score, and length were all fine, personally. I do have a strong issue with the idea that there is nothing new or useful in the material, though. Outside of personal stories about bizarre New Yorkers, how many "new" thing are there? Sure, the parents are often naive (or stupid depending on your religious views) to have this kind of trust, but I was shocked and appalled at how complicit and enabling the church was (is?), and was very moved at the depiction of the emotional aftermath. In short, the movie really pissed me off, and if enough people get pissed off, maybe eventually the church will be moved to stop behaving in this manner. "Deliver Us From Evil" is a shocking, well made, and important documentary. Thanks for giving it a try anyway. A 17 from me.

Replacement doc: "One Day in September". Your criteria for judging and liking documentaries remains a mystery to me, so I hope you like this one better.

Shane said...

I think I prefer documentaries about bizarre New Yorkers or something that isn't going to be talked about on network television. I didn't think this succeeded in any way other than being a major downer.