Deliver Us from Evil Amy Berg

Deliver Us from Evil Amy Berg
Amy Berg’s searing indictment of institutionalised religion, Deliver Us From Evil is not only well-balanced and deftly handled but packs an emotional wallop that threatens to dislocate one’s faith. The focus is the hierarchical order of the Roman Catholic Church and its methodical betrayal of patrons via a disturbingly intimate portrait of Oliver O’Grady, a defrocked priest living free in his native Ireland after serving prison time for sex offences in the California area. O’Grady’s victims range from a middle-aged mother, who the priest seduced to gain access to her young son, to a nine-month-old infant. With unprecedented access, Berg gets up close and personal with O’Grady, who confesses to his monstrous past with both nerve-racking ease and self-serving humour. O’Grady speaks of the urges that possessed him and details how he committed to them with a leisurely air, which becomes all the more unnerving when Berg frames him in playgrounds near children. Disgust is juxtaposed with heartrending misery as the film cuts between O’Grady and the testimonials of several of his victims. While these personal accounts provide an emotional drive, Berg refuses to confine the film, opening up her investigation to include the systematic culpability of the Church. What she discovers are the reasons why the Church is a cauldron of paedophilia, how the Church lies and bribes to cover-up scandals while shuffling accused priests to ripe, unaware neighbourhoods and how the Church resorts to condemning homosexuality (which is not usually applicable) as a scapegoat for publicised incidents. All of this is corroborated by the people and events in O’Grady’s case. Though the film’s thoroughness doesn’t require ancillary material, the DVD arrives a little above bare bones. A commentary track with Amy Berg and Editor Matthew Cooke provides background info on the experts and families, along with the director’s own investigations. The deleted scenes are predominantly inconsequential save for a creepy hotel scene with O’Grady attempting to convince the cameraman that they would have gotten along under better circumstances and a high anxiety victimised family moment. There’s also additional footage of the film’s experts, who reiterate and elaborate on the contradictions between The Bible and the Church; a point that Berg’s film efficiently delivers on its own. (Maple)