Review: The Cleansing Hour

‘The Cleansing Hour’, a lucrative and ‘Vatican licenced’ social media brand, puts an exorcism online for millions of viewers to see. Despite countless ‘effective’ exorcisms, numbers are however dwindling, with a toxic community more interested in the ‘hot priest’ or offering degenerate comments of what they’d like the demons to do to their possessed hosts, than they are appreciating the apparent ‘miracle’ they are able to witness from the comfort of their own devices.

As you would expect, however, the whole setup is a scam, and whilst the cast and crew brainstorm some creative avenues to boost their carnival’s ratings, one solution finds them, bringing light in their darkest hour.

What appears a gift from heaven, quickly reveals itself to be from the other team, as in today’s show, a real demon makes its way on set, possessing the fiancée of one of the show’s producers leaving Father Max well out of his depth and spiritually outgunned.

‘The Cleansing Hour’, a feature length development of the exceptional short of the same name, is 100% pure entertainment. Its violent as required, it’s funny and the performances are absolutely stellar; there’s even some decent creature effects thrown in for good measure. Whilst it doesn’t add anything original (beyond its social media concept) to the already established ‘exorcism’ genre, it’s still pack’s a lot of impressive shocks and demonic violence into its runtime.

The opening scene, which if memory serves me is very similar to the content shown within the original short, sets the tone for the rest of the film, with your typical vocal distortion, contorted limbs, blood and an exaggerated response to anything holy. Father Max is charismatic and as narcissistic as any social media obsessive; but he gives the show the people want to see. Once the ‘real’ possession occurs the demon takes the whole affair up a notch, spewing blood and curses with equal abandon, telekinesis comes as standard and there’s plenty of hellfire on tap for anyone unfortunate to stray outside the demon’s rules. The effects are really solid throughout and whilst I’ll reiterate, there is nothing that hasn’t been played out in at least a dozen equally effective movies, the unholy onslaught is plenty relentless.

After the initial possession the demon lays out a few ground rules; namely that the priest must take his own acts of confession, and that the feed must stay live. Throughout the runtime, as the stakes and theatrics mount, so does the viewer count. It’s clear the Demon is building to a crescendo, but the production team are powerless to do anything to stop it. Their efforts to allow the movie to branch out from the on-set location from time to time, and as such there is an opportunity to weave some backstory and broader context into the narrative. As the viewership grows, we get to see glimpses of the type of people watching – this of course becoming more crucial once the demon makes his final play. There is also an attempt to give some religious critique and background to Father Max and his involvement with the Catholic church, however this exposition struggles to generate empathy for the attention seeking showman, despite the rather cliched attempt a slandering the church for its hypocrisy and allegations of abuse. These sections I’d say are the only slow moments of an otherwise solid slice of horror.

As I’ve already discussed, everything demon related hits its mark time and time again, and just are you think you’ve seen all the movie has to offer in terms of its possession-based violence the movie throws in some really impressive creature effects; in the main from some ‘hellhound’ type creatures. These effects look really, really cool and the small sequence within which they feature really elevates the whole production value of the movies somewhat humble requirements.

Overall, as I had for the short, I’ve nothing really but praise for the film, it’s a definite watch if you like the concept. Its very much tongue in cheek, but still packs a grisly punch at the same time. The performances are outstanding from the small cast, especially Alix Angelis in her role as the possessed victim. There’s just enough satire built in to regarding the modern consumption, attitudes and impact of social media without the whole affair getting too preachy. All in, a solid 90minutes of entertainment. Given how well his idea for a short scaled up, I will watch for LeVeck’s next project with a keen eye.

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