By Chao Shete
According to an ancient lore, a woman will give birth to identical twin babies: one is destined to embody unparalleled goodness, while the other is prophesied to be the harbinger of world destruction. When a nun in a remote Russian convent claims immaculate conception, the Vatican, concerned about the aforementioned prophecy, sends in a team of priests to investigate. Deliver Us storyline is structured around grappling with the implications of the prophecy and how these events could easily spiral out of control into the destruction of the world as we know it.
‘Deliver Us’ is not exactly a traditional possession film. It delves into the intriguing concept of dark forces arising from within, embracing christian metaphysics, making its implications the centre of the movie. However, do not go in expecting ghost stories like in The Conjuring or heavy exorcism themes like in The Exorcist, far from it. In fact, the movie’s theme is heavily reliant on moral-catholic teachings, ritualistic killings, modern-day catholicism, graphic sexual activity and the future of the universe. It features psychic babies, a Russian nun, a Jesuit, a murderous one-eyed German priest, and apocalyptic prophecies. In many respects, it's a rather average horror movie, leaning heavily on conventional tropes like pervasive bloody violence, jump scares, and nods to classic horror cinema. Nevertheless, the spiritual undertones and defiance to ancient catholic teachings introduce a captivating dimension to the movie’s narrative.
We are introduced to Father Fox, an American Jesuit priest, when he arrives at the convent at the request of Sister Yulia. Father Fox, who up until that morning was dreaming up a quiet life with his girlfriend, ready to leave his present life behind, is sceptical about everything surrounding Sister Yulia’s pregnancy, prophecies be damned. However, when it becomes clear that dark forces are at work, and could result in the deaths of all of them, he is compelled to protect the pregnant nun and has a moral obligation to see to it that the babies are born.
From quite early on in the movie, it is clear that the birth of the infamous twins is not a welcome ‘blessing’ among the priestly circles. Hush plans to kill the babies are laid out in dim-lit backrooms by Vox Dei, a secret society. The deaths of either child will end the prophecy. At the heart of the film though is the intertwined fate of, and the relationship between Father Fox and Sister Yulia. They must both make proactive decisions that will go against the Church in order to either save the world or doom it. Their relationship and spiritual connection create some of the film’s most thematically loaded, uncomfortable, and curious allusions and imagery.
Given its Christian context, it should come as no surprise if certain portions of this film prove unsettling to some viewers. Nevertheless, the film does not seem to intentionally disrespect religious sensibilities. Its execution, however, places it in a somewhat delicate position in terms of its appeal to viewers as it is characterised by its high levels of violence and propensity to address sombre themes that may exceed the typical comfort zone of most Christian viewers. That said, Deliver Us, is a fairly average horror film that may not quite reach the heights achieved by its predecessors in the genre. Nonetheless, its exploration of this unique approach to horror is undeniably intriguing.
About the Writer:
Chao Shete is a writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She enjoys writing fiction, creative non-fiction essays and book reviews. When she is not writing, she spends most of her time getting lost between the pages of a good book.