Having made his name getting intimate with celebrity gossip, Joel McHale is no stranger to horror stories. So he’s a perfect fit for the new horror flick Deliver Us From Evil. McHale may not even need the bullet proof vest he wears in the flick–he didn’t wear one on Talk Soup and he survived nearly a decade of Paris Hilton. But that was a while ago, nowadays he’s a star on Community and the hyper-irony of that show leaks into his cop character in Evil. Luckily, the movie needs the irony just as McHale brings it. (It’ll be interesting to see if McHale, like Greg Kinnear before him, can somehow escape the fish bowl of irony he’s been swimming in so long. We’ll have to wait and see.)
For now, McHale’s faux intensity suits the goings-on in director Scott Derrickson’s willfully earnest exercise in exorcism. It’s been 40 years since the most famous film devil was ripped out of little Linda Blair in The Exorcist and the world has suffered a seismic shift since then: we don’t believe in anything anymore. Deliver Us From Evil tries to help, letting us know it’s based on a true story and that helps. Sure it’s a little formulaic, but McHale and co-star Eric Bana are wonderful to watch and there’s enough kinetic energy emanating from them (and Edgar Ramirez) to make you believe in the supernatural.