OPENING the action optimistically with a clearly Se7en-inspired overhead alley shot, it soon becomes apparent Deliver Us From Evil is a typical horror film disguised as a supernatural detective story.
Sergeant Sarchie is a sceptic - he outgrew God at age 12, used deadly force on a notorious child-killing paedophile, and, at the start of Deliver Us From Evil, he found a dead baby in a dumpster.
Australia's Eric Bana (Munich) plays Sarchie with all the world-weariness of a seasoned New York cop; an inability to be surprised by the depths humankind will sink to.
Father Mendoza is a believer - he is a Jesuit priest who regularly performs exorcisms, and drinks and smokes like the less-than-holy.
Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (set to take over Patrick Swayze's Bodhi in the upcoming Point Break remake) plays Mendoza, the yin to Bana's driven yang.
Their paths cross after Sarchie and his partner Butler - played by comedy star Joel McHale (TV's Community) in a surprisingly decent turn as the gung-ho, knife-wielding partner-cop - follow up on a call to the Bronx Zoo, where a woman has thrown her toddler into a lion pit.
Mendoza had been meeting with the disturbed woman, and believes her to be possessed by an evil spirit, a theory Sarchie is quick to dismiss.
Soon, strange and inexplicable things begin to happen surrounding the case, and Sarchie finds himself seeing and hearing things that others can't.
Deliver Us From Evil uses every gimmick in the horror handbook to ramp up the tension, from autonomous children's toys to flickering lights and Latin-spouting, crazy-eyed, contorted possessed people.
A plot point that was sadly underdeveloped involved references to The Doors and their music as a pre-cursor to demonic happenings - one particular scene seeing the aforementioned toddler-tosser obsessively repeating "break on through to the other side".
Successful slow motion, close-ups and vertigo effects, along with appropriately gory makeup, stylistically raise the film above your average paranormal horror, but the story leaves a fair bit to be desired, with many loose ends left untied.
The film also stars Olivia Munn (Magic Mike) as Jen Sarchie, the Sergeant's pregnant wife.
Overall, Deliver Us From Evil plays like one giant episode of Supernatural, with unsurprising - but no less thrilling - scares, and welcome comic relief from McHale, in a role written specifically for him.
Deliver Us From Evil, now screening at Hoyts Wetherill Park, is rated MA15+.