THE CLEANSING HOUR (2019)
Directed by Damien LeVeck
Written by Damien LeVeck and Aaron Horwitz
Starring Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, Emma Holzer, Joanna David, Ionut Grama, Bogdan Farcas, Tara Karsian, Jynarra Brinson, Ana Udroiu, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Sean Hamilton, Sorin Godi, Lucas Bond, Aaron McVeigh, Matt Raimo, Abeal Siddiq, Shak Ghacha, Shvan Aladdin, Calin Ferezan, Tiberiu Harsan
Ryan Guzman plays Max, a fake priest and host of a Youtube show called The Cleansing Hour, which uses special effects, actors, and high production to sell the reality of his fake exorcisms to his viewership. The viewers believe all of the theatrics are real, but it’s all a sham. When a real demon inhabits the girlfriend of the show’s producer Drew (Kyle Gallner), Max must use all of the knowledge from his fake exorcisms to conduct a real one while streaming live to his fans. As the possessed woman Lane (Alix Angelis) writhes and spits in her chair, Max must confront his own sins with the world watching.
Making a possession flick is tough. Comparisons to THE EXORCIST are always going to be there and no matter what a film does or how innovative a film tries to be, it always ends up being about a lot of bodily fluids, a bound girl, and a priest screaming at her. All of that is in THE CLEANSINIG HOUR and while the effects are pretty strong, it’s still nothing we haven’t seen before. There are a few dodgy CG demon creatures here and there, but the practical stuff is nice and gruesome.
What THE CLEANSING HOUR does offer is a look behind the scenes at the Youtube show, which, if I’m being honest, isn’t that interesting. Watching viewer numbers rise and fall and watching people Like a video isn’t what I call terrifying cinema and much of the film is dedicated to the rise and fall of the success of the channel Max stars in. Maybe if you’re into Youtube culture, this might appeal to you, but the popularity of the show is shown to be an integral part of the plot and also an interest of the demon possessing Lane and it really isn’t that compelling to watch as the film gets into the weeds with the behind the scenes lingo of Youtube analytics.
One thing that is never addressed in these Youtube/live TV sort of things is that at this point in the film, the entire world is shown that demonic possession exists. With all of the floating chairs, demon vomit, and other paranormal stuff shown, the world now knows that there is a devil or devils and therefore there is a God. None of this is ever addressed in THE CLEANSING HOUR. Sure we get “What the F?” reactions from the viewers, but no one really taking into consideration that everything that they know in the world is turned upside down once this stuff if witnessed. It’s a shame it’s not addressed, as it would be a much more interesting story than a rehash of the same old exorcism riff.
THE CLEANSING HOUR is a slick and polished Hollywood-style shocker. It’s decently acted. There are a few dramatic themes that show that none of the people we are to be invested in are very nice people and sort of deserve the torment they are all going through. The fight between a screaming priest and a bound and snarling woman looks good, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen done more effectively in other films. While it doesn’t offer anything new, what THE CLEANSING HOUR does offer is a good looking movie, just not a very scary one.