Eric Bana breaks from tradition in new horror film ‘Deliver Us From Evil’.

Eric Bana is a man of many genres. From appearing on our television screens in the ’90s in sketch show Full Frontal to waging war against the Greeks as Hector, Prince of Troy, Bana has performed in Australian dramas, romantic tales and epic sci-fi films, so his latest venture into the horror genre should come as no shock.

“I just loved the character of Ralph Sarchie,” he says. “I would’ve played Ralph in any film – he just happened to be in a horror film. I love the subtext of the film and I realised this was a really good opportunity to do a horror film with a bit of a difference.

“Believe it or not there are a lot of similarities to comedy because so much of what makes horror work is timing – I would never have thought that before working on a horror film.”

Deliver Us From Evil is certainly a twist on the genre, combining creepy demonic imagery and the regular horror shocks with character development, philosophical soul-searching and humour.

“It was kind of like working on three different films,” says Bana. “Doing a buddy cop movie with Joel [McHale, Community]; doing a breakup relationship movie with Olivia Munn; and doing an existential, high-brow dialogue through the movie with Edgar [Ramirez], so it was kind of crazy. And then of course Sean Harris would come along and suddenly you were in a horror film.

“There’s a real redemptive quality to what Ralph is going through and there’s a really heavy subtext that we don’t often get in a horror film. Some of the scenes I have with Edgar’s character seem so out of character for a horror – I was always concerned they’d be cut and I was really proud that we managed to maintain them. ”

The film is based on the real accounts of cop-turned-demonologist Ralph Sarchie, who was on-set as the NYPD adviser.

“He was probably one of the most intense people I’ve ever met so I had to lighten him a little bit,” says Bana, who is no stranger to portraying real people on screen. “You have to make them feel comfortable and try and reassure them because in every case you’re dealing with someone who has never worked in the film industry before and has no idea what they’re in for.

“To be honest, 90 per cent of the time we talked motorcycles not exorcisms.”

Sarchie’s tales of ‘primary evil’ and video recordings of exorcisms left the cast with chills.

“After spending a lot of time researching exorcisms in a real sense as opposed to being dismissive of it I definitely had my eyes opened to the cultural, religious and historical aspects of it,” Bana says.

“Some of the materials we had access to opened my eyes to that the fact that it doesn’t matter what you believe in, there are some people who are truly suffering, some of whom [exorcism] seems to help.

“It was a much harder one to categorise after immersing yourself in the subject matter, so I’d say I definitely feel more educated and slightly more open-minded.”

The filming process wasn’t all demons and danger; in fact it was more gallows humour and fun on set.

“Occasionally you’ll be in a location that felt a bit weird – some of those locations were creepy, and shooting nights is a good attack on the nervous system, but it was actually surprisingly a lot of fun. Except for that last sequence, that exorcism sequence, which I wouldn’t describe as fun.”

Deliver Us From Evil is in cinemas today.