Film Review – The Cleansing Hour (2019)

As they these days, you can find anything online including exorcisms! In Damien LeVeck‘s The Cleansing Hour, exorcism go live online and is our ‘priest’ battling (fake) evil every week?

Everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame these days. Those opportunities used to come in the shape of talent shows in pubs and clubs sometimes tv shows. For the young generation it seems to come in the shape of reality shows if not online especially through social media. Like any any type of success, if you have a good plan in place it will take you far. Even if that plan is on the ‘fake’ side.

Based on LeVeck‘s 2016 short film of the same name and stars Ryan Guzman as well as Kyle Gallner. The play best friends (Father) Max and Drew who run a popular exorcism webscast ‘The Cleansing Hour‘ . Watched by millions worldwide , however they don’t have that elusive blue tick which bring potentially more. The exoricisms themselves are ‘staged’ with actors however for this cast things take a drastic turn when one them becomes possessed. The demon subjects everyone to violent until Max confess he is an imposter if he doesn’t reveal his dark secrets.

The film is currently on Shudder, originally making it’s UK premiere at 2020 Glasgow FrightFest, part of The Glasgow Film Festival. Opening FrightFest that year in a line up that included Saint Maud, Sea Fever.

The Cleansing Hour could have easily have been another run of the mill exorcism horror. The film does tread some familar you would expect, LeVeck does something a little different inputting some humour with a degree of success. It won’t win anything on originality, what it does do do well is in it’s delivery. Everything seems to unfold in realtime and it doesn’t need a massive back story. What we need to learn about Max and Drew we learn early or in gaps throughout the film. The film does know what it wants to be, mixing up that comedy with exorcism and a priest who nothing more than a charlatan.

The opening scene reveals all you need to know about the webcast. It’s all about the ratings, the followers, the likes and getting that Blue tick. The tick that would catapult their show in internet valhalla.

As they say about newspaper or watch on television, never beleive everything you read or watch, same could be said about the internet. The question has Max may is or not a priest or he’s simply fallen from grace? The Cleansing Hour you could argue is not about the exorcisms, it’s a confessional horror. The demon which possessed Drew’s girlfriend (Alix Angelis) takes that confession pushing him to the edge. Forcing him to face his own demons and what he has become.

The heart of the film is with Max and Drew’s friendship. We do get little morsels of their history good and bad, can Max tell the truth stop the demon kill everyone along with his reputation. The confession is off course being ‘televised’. That relationship between the two is believable , it’s Angelis (Drew’s girlfriend Lane) who steals the limelight. From make up artist to the demon wrecking havoc on set.

The Cleansing Hour might be a little too predictable at time, tripping itself up with a few cliches. Despite feeling an unfinished LeVeck tries to fit everything into the film’s 94 minute running time. Humanity sells it’s soul online for 15 minutes of fame, in a highly entertaining horror that will make you laugh at the same time.

★★★

Horror | USA, 2019 | 15 | Shudder | Dir.Damien LeVeck | Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis

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