Note: This review originally ran during the Toronto International Film Festival. It is being rerun now in conjunction with the film's opening this weekend. - ed
A child being sexually molested by a trusted adult is bad enough; when the molester is the Catholic priest from the parish the child has grown up with, the horror is magnified that much more. Not only is there all the usual shattering of trust and innocence that is the inevitable fallout of a child victimized by a predator, but the child's spiritual faith is shattered as well. In her powerful documentary Deliver Us From Evil, Amy Berg delves headfirst into the murky waters of pedophilia in the Catholic priesthood and the Church's culpability in covering it up, as told through the stories of three of the hundreds of victims of Catholic priest Oliver O'Grady, known to the families who trusted him as "Father Ollie."
What makes Berg's film both amazing and incredibly wrenching is that she was able to interview Father O'Grady extensively for the film. Almost as if he's using the camera as his own private confessional booth, O'Grady talks candidly about his problem -- being sexually attracted to children -- and how he used the position of spiritual trust granted him by the Church's authority to molest and rape the children of his parishes. You can't help but be chilled watching O'Grady -- an innocuous-looking older man now, with white hair and twinkling eyes, smile as he talks about getting sexually aroused by young children in their underwear, and smirk as he discusses being forgiven his sins by confessing them to another priest, as if his victims were chalkboards he could scribble all over and then erase.