DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Amy Berg). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (October 27). For venues and times, see Movies, page 115. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
First-time director Amy Berg delivers a burning indictment of the Catholic Church via Deliver Us From Evil , a straightforward talking-heads documentary on the case of Father Oliver O'Grady , a career child molester who preyed on California children in the 70s and 80s. When parishioners complained, church officials promised they'd take him out of circulation. Instead, they shifted him to another parish and let him continue.
Berg does extensive interviews with some of the victims and their families. Their anguish is hard to watch, but their stories of how O'Grady used classic pedophile techniques to manipulate both parents and children are detailed and instructive, a valuable corrective to both foolish naveté and mindless suspicion.
Surprisingly, O'Grady himself agreed to be interviewed for the movie. A bland little man with what's meant to be a charming smile and a diffident manner, he's clearly doing nothing but giving a performance intended to disarm.
Even more astonishing, Berg has videotaped court depositions by O'Grady's direct superiors, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney and his deputy, Monsignor Cain . Their glib denials, offered with the studied affability of veteran TV actors, help persuade us that the corruption is widespread and systemic. More chilling is the possibility that Mahoney and Cain have more personal, private reasons for the cover-up.