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RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 103 Minutes
- Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary)
- Alternate Ending (with optional commentary)
- Bible vs. Church (with optional commentary)
- Feature Film Commentary with Producer/Writer/Director Amy Berg and Editor/Producer Matthew Cooke
- 16×9 Widescreen
- 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
- English and Spanish subtitles
“Watch lives destroyed as the Catholic church knowingly harbors a pedophile priest and ships him along to new exotic locales to terrorize the townspeople anew!”
The Jyono family, Adam, Case and Jane Degroot, Nancy Sloan, (although in the case of these bastards, ‘humans’ is stretching it) Father Oliver O’Grady, Archbishop Roger Mahony
The story of Father Oliver O’Grady, an admitted pedophile, who wreaked havoc on numerous communities in the California area, running unchecked (even worse, harbored and protected) by his superiors in the Catholic church. Follows him in Ireland in the current day and captures his thoughts on his past actions whilst also following victims of his heinous acts as they try to put together the pieces of their life decades later. Also inserted in here is a small discussion of Theology and how this problem of molestation in the church has been perpetuated for centuries by the church, which operates more like a big business than the safe-haven for spiritually active people it projects itself as.
Grand Theft Innocence.
Having been raised Catholic (and even having had a priest over for dinner in my house) doesn’t exactly entitle me to feeling more outraged by the events that unfold over Deliver Us From Evil’s running time, but damn if I don’t understand exactly how shattering of a transgression priest molestation is given the beliefs and tenets of the faith. What Deliver Us From Evil does so well is show us the emotional damage done to those who are victims of such sexual abuse, contrasting it with a truly chilling human being in Father Oliver O’Grady who doesn’t seem to really understand the repercussions of the years of damage he wrought throughout California.
The film cuts back and forth between a handful of victims (the Jyono family as well as others) and an interview with (formerly) Father O’Grady (who’s living fun and fancy free in Ireland) explaining his actions. The cumulative effect is startling, as you really can explicitly see the disconnect O’Grady is suffering through his descriptions of the actions without much in the way of remorse (even when he speaks about the events remorsefully, one feels he is hamming it up for the camera) while emphasizing the lingering effect he still has on these families – you can feel the specter of these events hanging over these poor people whenever they talk or interact with the camera. It should be noted that while the film is harrowing at many points (the description of the rape of an infant child is one of the most horrible things one could hear), there is beauty to be had in this movie: the concluding montage set to a cover of “Hallelujah” is touching, despite being the obvious choice in that situation. The handheld camerawork during many of the segments is quite a thing to behold (the scenery capturing O’Grady in his element is chilling, but you can’t take your eyes off of it, and it has more to do with it than just the man).
The film’s a success because it first and foremost shows the damage done by such actions while at the same time providing a compelling argument for the Catholic church’s (at least this specific L.A. chapter – but with the amount of molestations being unveiled as of late, one can feel comfortable extrapolating this to all across the country) complacency in the face of such issues, although they are well-served by pointing out this isn’t a new epidemic – it’s been around for hundreds of years. The film also succeeds in giving us a brief glimpse into the mind of a sexual deviant and the unfiltered access (unfiltered in theory that is, not taking into account the mental roadblocks he’s guaranteeably installed in his mind since the events occurred) is equal turns compelling and mortifying.
And while Father O’Grady is most certainly a monster of a man (as evidenced by his hope that his victims would come meet with him for one-on-one sessions where he could apologize*) who clearly has no concept of the damage he’s done, he isn’t the most vile person in this situation. As a victim of molestation as a child, O’Grady’s behavior can be explained, although never justified or accepted. He’s a man who’s clearly mentally deranged and disturbingly removed from his actions. However, the men at the top of the chain in the church, who knew of O’Grady’s transgressions, who allowed them to recur by just moving him from one parish to another in the California area (which, let’s face it – it’s a fucking all-you-can-eat buffet waiting for him in every goddamn town), these men who actually promoted the man instead of taking him out of the picture and trying to find him help and treatment for his illness, they’re the true monsters in this scenario. They are the reason so many people have their faith completely obliterated, because they’re unwilling to even extend a sympathetic hand out to these victims or try to supply them with support in their time of need. Instead, they insulate themselves with ridiculous statements (in the film, when Cardinal Mahony’s second-in-command Monsignor Cain offers that he saw no correlation between the molestation of a girl by O’Grady and then later on a boy because the first was just ‘natural sexual curiosity’ while the other was ‘homosexual behavior’, I defy your mind to not be blown out of the back of your fucking skull).
The aforementioned Mahony.
This is a haunting, sobering picture. And while it’s by no means light or easy viewing, it’s definitely worth seeing for the powerful humanity it puts to the face of this tragedy that’s being perpetuated up to this day (as is mentioned in the movie, not acting against the molestations is another way of condoning them). It’s a topic that must be broached, no matter how much certain people in power in the church hierarchy would like to sweep the issue under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist (or, alternately, that money somehow will fix the trauma dealt into these victims lives). Highly recommended.
I understand that most DVD covers don’t use the poster art because if you’re trying to get someone to see your movie it’s better to advertise your stars rather than interesting imagery to get that point across. But for a documentary, when it’s the subject matter that’s going to rope people in, I honestly have no idea why they didn’t go with the original, provocative and suitably creepy poster art when it’s better looking and more likely to interest potential viewers in seeing it. As is the case with most documentaries, there’s a varying degree of quality based on film stocks, video footage and still photographs, but the 5.1 Dolby backs up the film admirably. Overall, this is a stacked disc with lots of worthwhile stuff to check out. First up is a commentary from Amy Berg (Producer/Writer/Director) and her editor Matthew Cooke. At the outset they warn the listeners they will go silent for stretches of the film to respect the material, but then proceed to talk for the majority of the film’s running time. A good thing too, as the commentary is perceptive and interesting with Berg providing insight into the people on screen as well as filling us in on little tidbits (such as the fact that those responsible for shuttling O’Grady all around California are still in power to this very day).
Also on board are an alternate ending and a host of deleted scenes, all with optional commentary by Berg and Cooke, none of which really merited inclusion in the film but are interesting to watch within the context the film gives. My favorite feature on the disc was the handful of scenes under the heading of “Bible versus Church”, which goes a little more in-depth into theology while discussing the Catholic Church and how its policy of abstinence for the priests has resulted in a disconnect from the congregation and unhealthy sexual relationships. There’s a lot of fascinating information to be had in there. It also comes with optional commentary (just for that section I’d opt out like Gilbert Arenas because the scenes are so informative). Overall, a really nice collection of extras to complement a powerful and moving picture.
9.0 out of 10
*And I swear to (non-existent) Christ, he fucking winks at the camera during this scene. Horrifying.