I was already impressed with the short movie version of The Cleansing Hour (2016) and the feature, given more time to fill in the story gaps and spend more time on character development, did not disappoint. Directed and co-written by Damien LeVeck as his sophomore feature film, The Cleansing Hour (2019) will be available via VOD beginning January 19th.
The film follows Max (Ryan Guzman) and Drew (Kyle Gallner), two friends who work together to produce a popular streaming channel, called “The Cleansing Hour”, which broadcasts staged sessions of them performing exorcisms. One night one of their live streams is hijacked by a demon who possesses their actress, and they must find it within themselves to attempt a real exorcism by offering up the inner demons within themselves as a sacrifice.
This movie was pure entertainment — the special effects, the story, the characters, the tone, and I really could actually go on with how well-done The Cleansing Hour is, despite it being seemingly cookie cutter as far as its premise and character types. The Cleansing Hour boasts both practical and CGI effects, both of which landed with the same blunt force trauma that the movie’s violent acts typically employed. The Cleansing Hour‘s story felt like it had a millennial voice, providing social satire regarding mob mentality in blood sports moving from Roman arenas to the internet, but it does this in a clever way that sidesteps coming off as judgy of internet culture; the movie, instead, primarily focuses on the particular sins of lying and false prophecy.
This false prophet aspect of the story has been done before, such as The Last Exorcism (2010), however, The Cleansing Hour is a starkly different movie — as far as a fear factor, The Cleansing Hour leaned more towards dark humor than suspenseful, frightening horror. There was even one scene with a magnetic and lovely drag queen that I absolutely adored even though it seemed out of place, coming off a bit like a final cut death scene from an episode of Dragula. The film does seem to have a shadowy layer to its lighting, and this darkness serves to counteract the film’s slightly comedic points and characters’ mannerisms, making for a practically perfectly balanced film. The ending is not to be missed — just when I thought it was over, The Cleansing Hour produces a heart-racing final 10 minutes, complete with one of the most badass incarnations of the devil that I can recall in film.
As far as exorcism movies go, The Cleansing Hour is probably not going to reinvigorate the exorcism genre, however, it was by far one of the best recent exorcism movies I have seen. At certain instances, my jaw dropped at some of the more intensely staged deaths and heartbreaking flashbacks of the protagonist’s torturous childhood in Catholic school, however, I also found myself smirking to myself, caused by the film’s snappy Millenial dialogue — in short, Damien LeVeck’s The Cleansing Hour is one layered and smartly written movie that I would not mind revisiting in the future.
6.7 out of 10