Expectant parents, look away now. Deliver Us takes a leaf out of the books of the likes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen by giving us a nun in Russia who is apparently pregnant with twins – one the antichrist, one the son of God. The Vatican sends in Father Fox (Lee Roy Kunz, who also co-directs) to investigate, and all sorts of visions and dreams and shenanigans ensue. If you’ve ever wanted to see a naked bride of Christ plunge deliriously into a cross-shaped hole in the surface of a frozen lake in the dead of night, you’ve come to the right place.
Deliver Us might have a hokey sort of premise, but it’s one that has the potential to spawn a neat little horror movie. However, the film has loftier ambitions, and isn’t quite the silly knockabout schlock you’d expect. Co-directors Cru Ennis and Kunz (with screenplay by Kunz and his brother Kane Kunz) take a deadly serious approach to the material, which in some ways is refreshing: any horror fan will tell you that endlessly camp horror-comedy can wear thin after a while. At first, the gravity with which the ripe material is handled works in the film’s favour. An opening sequence full of out-of-shot beheadings and footage of knives gliding through ritualistically tattooed flesh is realistically staged, and promises a genuinely terrifying film that then largely fails to materialise. The excellent cinematography retains a sense of moody purpose throughout, with plenty of desaturated landscapes recalling Bruegel’s famously wintry Hunters in the Snow.
But as the film progresses, it becomes painfully apparent that the problem is the talkier, plot-based material in between the set-pieces and surreal visions, with a dour screenplay struggling to maintain narrative momentum. The result is that you find yourself just waiting for the next scene with a murderous one-eyed priest, random beartrap or bitey breastfeeding. It’s a shame as this had the potential to be pretty good.