“Deliver Us” begins with a ritualistic series of decapitations. The camera slowly tracks down a line of shivering faces, kneeling in medium closeup, just ahead of a stern-looking fellow with a machete. We only see the killer’s machete after he tees up for the last victim in line. Blood spurts on each successive face, so you can tell that all these panicked, heavy-breathing people are afraid of something. These are Zoroastrians, by the way.
After the violence, we see various naked and now headless bodies as they’re dragged across the floor on their stomachs, presumably because showing us the actors’ genitals would cross a line. A one-eyed priest, Father Saul (Thomas Kretschmann), hangs out by a lit brazier at the far end of a vast, sparingly lit cell. He’s presented with the flayed skin of one of the Zorastrians’ victims. He makes a face as he pores over the bloody, tattooed skin like it’s a holy text. “Deliver Us” simultaneously is, and it isn’t that kind of movie.
Father Saul soon returns, though he’s obviously not a protagonist. Rather, he chases blinkered Father Fox (Lee Roy Kunz, also the movie’s co-writer/director/producer) from Russia to Estonia after Father Fox is called in by the Vatican for a special mission. Fox’s presence is specifically requested by Sister Yulia (Maria Vera Ratti), a Russian nun who becomes mysteriously pregnant with twins after a suggestive scene where she’s assailed by wind noises and flickering lights.
By the time we meet Fox, he’s already developed a reputation, having assisted with an exorcism in Murmansk. No, really. Father Fox reluctantly takes Yulia’s case, though only after seeking counsel from his Estonian partner Laura (Jaune Kimmel). Laura encourages Fox while he calmly and methodically chops red cabbage in extreme closeup. Laura has faith in her relationship and even alludes to her bright future life with the good father when they’ll settle down in, uh, Canada.
So Father Fox travels to Yulia’s Russian convent with the impressionable Cardinal Russo (Alexander Siddig), a curiously accented Catholic who thinks the weirdest things are “fascinating.” Together, Fox and Russo help Yulia give birth to twins, one of whom might be “the Christ child” and one of whom could be the Antichrist. The Vatican wants to abort both kids just to be safe. Father Saul also wants Yulia’s children, so he follows her and Fox to Laura’s secluded Estonian estate. Fox also experiences campy visions, including a nightmare where he delivers the twins from an icy lake. In at least one scene, the twins exhibit psychic powers. One of them speaks with a husky adult male voice.