Read about the true events from Ralph Sarchie, on who this new movie is based.
As a New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (played in the movie by Eric Bana), investigated a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joined forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramírez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. The film is inspired by the book, which details Sarchie’s bone-chilling real-life cases.
The film hits Irish cinemas next week on August 20th…
Q: So what is it like coming every day on set and watching the elements of life unfold?
A: It is exciting, but I tell you, I have a job to do basically and that’s what I concentrate on. I try and separate myself from what I am seeing, I can just concentrate on the Police consulting that I am basically here for. That’s about it.
Q: When did you kind of first get involved with demonology?
A: It was back in 1990 when I started to work actually with the Warrens, their new movie (The Conjuring) just came out, I worked with them til about I would say 1995, 96 and I basically went out on my own.
Q: Can you talk about the first experience that you had that made you believe that there are paranormal activities?
A: I never had an experience, a single experience, I studied and I read when I was a kid, from the age of twelve, and I just kept reading. I read horror stories, military stories and cop stories, and over the years I kept reading about the Warrens and eventually, when I got old enough I began to realize that these things were real. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it for quite some time and it wasn’t until I was about twenty-eight, twenty-nine, that I decided I wanted to get involved in this field and I don’t know why, it just happened that way.
Q: But was there a specific event?
A: When I was a kid, reading the books, seeing the movie The Exorcist, and then realizing that it was based on a true story of a little boy, about my age, I started to believe that these things are real.
Q: Could you do a little pitch about the book you wrote and what are the differences between the book and the screenplay?
A: The book is a compilation of some of my profound cases, a lot of police anecdotes in it, to break up the horror, and throw a police anecdote in there, but for the fact that I was trying to show that there’s a correlation between primary evil and the evil that men do. It is connected, although it’s different, it’s not as profound as far as when the demonic are active in a home compared to when you have someone out there doing robberies, there’s a different type of evil that we all have to deal with.
Q: Have you ever talked with William Peter Blatty (author of The Exorcist)?
A: No, I never have. But when I saw that movie, it frightened me, big time, (laughs) and I also didn’t know it was going to be a training film for me at the time. (laughter)
Q: And does the movie tell one of those stories or is it a compilation?
A: It’s different cases that I have handled, that I have been involved with, and the movie has got elements of the book, it’s entertainment, you have to have an arc and all that good stuff that goes with making a movie, so you couldn’t get that from directly using the book, too many cases bouncing back and forth, so Scott (Derrickson – director) in his masterful way, has taken elements of the book and put it in the movie, sometimes in a different context than what I wrote about, but I recognize it when I see it in the script. And he did a great job as far as the message that’s in the book, is translating to the screen, and he’s just doing a tremendous job, everybody is, everybody involved, right down to the grips and the catering. Try the food, you will see what I am talking about. (laughter) You can gain some weight around here. (laughter)
Q: Because a lot of the film is shot in the Bronx, so it’s all these little areas that you know very well, but were you surprised what they did with the on set hallways and all that kind of stuff?
A: The entire movie I am amazed. Every set that I went on was just simply amazing to me. And being up in the Bronx to film this movie, it gave it such an authentic feel that you couldn’t really ask for anything better than that. To actually film in the 46 Precinct. We filmed at a lot of locations that I had crime scenes or made an arrest, and who thought a few years later, I’d be dealing with a movie, (laughs) never.
Q: What in Eric Bana’s character is you and what is fiction?
A: I think Eric, being that he has this Australian accent, it was incredible to hear him sound like me. As for the mannerisms, I didn’t realize that when we first met he was basically studying me. It makes me a little uncomfortable now, (laughter) but I understood it what he was doing. He needed to act like a cop and act like me, I think he did a bang up job. Everybody has. Like I said, I am very surprised of the quality, the range that they are pushing out here, it’s incredible.
Q: We saw your daughter’s room and something creepy going on, did something similar like that happen in real life?
A: Yeah, like I said, over the course of the years, I never had any kind of experience in the supernatural, until I got involved with the work and unfortunately, my family had to deal with that over the years, the things that they have seen, it’s disturbing to them, but it’s just the demonic, they like to pick on family members, basically to get my ex and me to fight, that’s why she’s my ex, (laughter) and try and stop me from doing the work. And my kids are pretty tough, they have seen a lot and they know what it is and they dealt with it.
Q: How old are they now?
A: My oldest is 23 and my youngest is 18. (Pulls out photo) Daniella, she’s my youngest daughter and that’s Christina, that’s my oldest daughter. She still makes that face actually. (laughter) And I have a grandson, Jacob, and he’s about ten and a half months old and I got a lot of blessings from God, I am very happy when it comes to that.
Q: Are you still with the Police Force?
A: No, I am retired.
Q: You seem very young, so at what point did you decide to quit the police?
A: I did my twenty years and I retired, and it was about nine years ago that I had been retired, so it’s been awhile.
Q: And since then, you have just worked on special cases?
A: Well I work, I do security work, and I handle cases when they come up and it sort of works out.
Q: Because we talked to Lorraine Warren and went to their house, we know that when she does any kind of visit, she brings along a priest also and so do you have a similar kind of buddy system?
A: Well, when I investigate cases of infestation or oppression, I go to the house and I will perform an exorcism if need be because a layman is permitted to perform an exorcism in a home as long as you are in a state of grace, but not over a person, and I try to alleviate the priests involvement in having to actually travel to the location and then do what he needs to do when the priests are very busy in the parish. What I need a priest to do is exorcise people, which we refer to as a Solemn Exorcism and to back me up if I cannot handle a particular case. I will also assist the priest when he performs a Solemn Exorcism. That is the way I handle my cases.
Q: What we learned in watching The Conjuring, when people go to these houses to check on something paranormal, usually it’s not these situations, it could be the pipes. Do you encounter this situation?
A: Usually when I am doing an investigation over the phone, my initial interview, I can tell if I am dealing with something that’s supernatural, or even somebody who might have a mental illness, but I have been fooled, it’s not foolproof when I am not sitting down across from that person, looking at them when I speak to them, but for the most part, people who call me, they have a serious problem. It’s not just the pipes. And they know it by the time I get the call.
Q: So is New York City a very haunted city?
A: I wouldn’t say that it’s any more haunted than say maybe St. Louis. I wouldn’t say that New York holds a special market, it’s all over, there’s no pattern to tell you the truth, it just happens.
Q: Did you ever feel in real danger for your life, when you were on these cases?
A: Yeah. It was a case in Westchester, I went down into a basement and I shouldn’t have gone down into the basement by myself, from the phenomena I was hearing, this thing kept trying to draw the family members down into the basement, and when I went down there to take a look at what the woman was describing to me, on my way out, there were these two doors, and I felt this thing, that demon behind those doors, and it actually stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, I could hardly breathe, it was a very quick thing, it took maybe about thirty seconds of all of that stuff happening. It was profound, I felt it and it’s something that I don’t want to ever feel again, but it’s a part of this work and that’s where your faith in God comes in, if you don’t have it, you better stay away from it.
Q: And did you feel the demon, or did you actually see it?
A: I didn’t see it, but I felt it, and I knew it was there. They do that, they don’t have to manifest, most of the time they don’t manifest, you can’t see them, but you can feel them and you can sense them.
Q: Have any weird things happened during the shoot?
A: No, I am on guard for that. I am ready to deal with it if it ever happens, but I really do feel that with this particular movie, I think that God has put His blessing on it, and that’s the way I feel about it. He wants it made. It’s taken about eleven years to make it to this point, so the way I see it, if God didn’t want it to happen it wouldn’t have.
Q: Are you a religious person? Do you follow any specific kind of religion?
A: Yeah, I am a traditional Catholic, I go to mass, I say my prayers, I try to live according to what Jesus teaches us, love God and love your neighbor. And this, I feel is just one of the many charities, Christian charities in this world. There are a lot of people out here doing this work to tell you the truth. They are all over the place, some are Baptists, some are Protestant denominations, so it’s just one charity in a sea of charities and offered to God.
Q: Are you particularly sensitive? Like do you see things maybe that some of us don’t see?
A: Well, I am not clairvoyant, so I cannot see anything or hear anything, unless it wants me to see it or hear it. But everybody is born with a certain amount of intuition, we lose it as we get older if we don’t cultivate it, but as far as anything special, I don’t have that. Lorraine (Warren) is a clairvoyant, she has the ability to see and hear these things, and I basically go on my gut instinct and prayer, I use prayer a lot. When I get a case, I will pray on it, I get my impressions of it and that might formulate how I am going to do my interview to see if I am on the right track and if not, switch gears and go another route. So it’s sort of on the fly when I do my investigations, but I don’t have anything concrete, I don’t have the gift of discernment. I wish I did. It would make things easier.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL film hits Irish cinemas on August 20th
We’ll have another interview from the movie next week.