What are we to make of the competing schools of theology presented in the seemingly endless stream of exorcism-based movie product?
Depending on who’s running the show, the devil has two choices in these junk-fests: to be handily trounced by the triumphant Catholic Church’s renegade exorcists (and they are always renegades, departing from this or that official protocol because everyone’s gotten too safe, man, too timid) or to serve all Christians a plate of hot destruction via demonic (also sequel-ready) dance battle. I won’t spoil the outcome of this one but I will tell you that you’ll be righteously bored by the final showdown and, if you've seen enough of these competing mythologies, probably ready to join your local atheism breakfast club.
Something bad is in a cave in Iraq. That bad thing gets itself over to the Bronx because some soldiers take it home. Now comfortably infecting New Yorkers with wickedness, the bad thing makes men beat their wives and mothers throw their babies into wild animal cages at the zoo and everybody scratch at cement until their fingernails fall off. Also, something is freaky with house paint, a guy who talks to lions, toys that operate by themselves, cannibal fish and the music of The Doors. I know I just made it sound kind of weird and cool. It’s the opposite of that.
Eric Bana is a hardened, seen-it-all cop with a wife (Olivia Munn) and little daughter at home. He’s on the case of the violent scratchy people and it’s affecting him, too. He hears Doors songs and sees visions that nobody else has to endure. A smoking, drinking, womanizing priest (Edgar Ramirez) is here to help, though, and he seems to have a better handle on what needs to be done. Or does he? Is this all just mass PTSD? Is it, as the priest says, "primary evil" or "secondary evil?" Has the bad thing gotten inside Bana? What’s the deal with the paint and Iraq and corpses bursting with insects? And wait, why is a dead pedophile and The Soup's Joel McHale figuring into the equation? And, really, why do songs by The Doors need to be involved in all this? Hasn’t everyone on screen already suffered enough?
Answer to that last one: No. And neither have you. You must deal with two full hours of tired cop cliché and tireder horror trope and tiredest Satan-whatever before this maelstrom of dumb reaches its numbingly conventional conclusion. Points for some cool, gory make up and a maniacal supporting performance by an actress named Olivia Horton as the possessed, baby-throwing mommy, but that’s about it. Like Bana’s cop, you’ve seen this all before. The surprise, if there is one, is that you’re not more bitter about it than you are.