Cleansing Hour, The


“Cut the Feed!”

Main Cast: Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner

Director: Damien LeVeck

Father Max has just completed another successful exorcism on his YouTube channel The Cleansing Hour, and after he says his goodbyes and the cameras stop rolling, his producer and best friend Drew calls CUT.  The possessed man gets off the bed he was strapped to, says he’d like to thank his mother.  Max thanks everyone for another great show, and it’s off to the karaoke bar where Max meets a groupie and, the next morning in bed, he tells her of his failed attempt to become an exorcist.  So he took the next logical step and decided to go it alone in his quest to vanquish evil from the world.

When it’s time for their next show to start, the “victim” they’d hired doesn’t show up, so Drew, in a moment of desperation, asks his fiancée Lane to step in.  Father Max begins the session, Lane is hitting her cues, Max is following the prompter and then… all Hell breaks loose, literally; Lane is really possessed and now this fake exorcist has to face his worst nightmare: an actual demon, live on camera.

I found myself yesterday afternoon with a couple hours to kill while my wife was at band practice and I decided I’d watch a movie.  I got exactly 2:37 into THE CLEANSING HOUR before shutting it off.  Not because it was bad, but because, in those 2 minutes and 37 seconds, I could tell this was going to be a good one and I wanted to watch it with my wife.  So instead I watched 1981’s DEAD AND BURIED, and last night after shopping we watched THE CLEANSING HOUR and barely a word was spoken the entire time.  I’m pretty sure that’s because we were both so engrossed in the movie.

I’m unfamiliar with Ryan Guzman, but he’s been around for a while (over 80 episodes of 9-1-1 on Fox) but Kyle Gallner I’ve seen in a ton of things (SMILE, “Outsiders”, RED STATE) and I always like him.

I was very impressed with the work both of them turned in for this movie and, while I’ve never heard of Alix Angelis (BEAUTY AND THE BRIEFCASE), she was really good, too, despite the added weight of having EVERY demon possession captured on film being compared to Linda Blair’s amazing THE EXORCIST performance.  I think she had a little tougher go of it, but overall nothing she did really pulled me out of the movie too much.  And when she did, I can’t blame her; I wasn’t impressed with her demon-possessed voice.  I just thought it could have been a little more processed, but maybe that’s just a personal preference.

From a production perspective, this was a gorgeous-looking movie despite the subject matter and the events of the plot.  I really dug the score and loved how it worked to enhance the scenes without ever becoming intrusive or overdone.  In many scenes, especially during the climax, the music really added to the tension and helped carry the scene to its conclusion.

The movie was written and directed by Damien LeVeck (DARK, DEADLY & DREADFUL) from a story by Aaron Horwitz (DARK, DEADLY & DREADFUL) and was previously made into a short film.  I haven’t seen that version, but if this is the kind of work LeVeck is turning out, I’m very curious to see how they compare.  And what else he’s capable of.

Overall, I really liked this movie, so much so that I texted my daughter right after and told her to watch it.

I’m a sucker for a handful of types of movies.  Found footage?  I’m there.  Haunted House?  Yes, please.  My earliest memory is of watching what would become my favorite movie of all time: THE EXORCIST.  I’m all for a good demon-possession story.  The problem is, so many possession stories lose steam in the third act, and the climax is always so much weaker than the build-up.  Pretty much every demon possession movie I’ve seen since has ended just terribly.  For me, though, THE CLEANSING HOUR took on that challenge and ran with it.  I definitely did not see that ending coming, even though in retrospect all the clues were right there, and the stakes were suddenly raised so much higher than this little backstreet LA warehouse set.

I appreciate a movie that not only catches me off guard, but has put in the work to try and do something original.  I give THE CLEANSING HOUR a high recommendation.

THE CLEANSING HOUR is currently streaming on Shudder and AMC+, or you can rent or buy it on Amazon.

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