Damien LeVeck (director)
08 October 2020 (released)
20 October 2020
This is my review of The Cleansing Hour when it was presented at Glasgow FrightFest 2020.
The horror genre has been right on the ball picking up on the laughs, pitfalls and horror to be had with social media and reality television. The hugely underrated Tragedy Girls hit the social media ’hit’ obsession on the nose while reality tv was skewered by Dead Set which is not a film but for the purposes of this review, will do.
The Cleansing Hour has the two in its sights and while not totally successful in its satirical targets defiantly delivers on the horror and gore. The set-up is basic with a live streaming show featuring Max (Ryan Guzman) a ‘priest’ who carries out exorcisms live, while in the background there’s a team keeping an eye on the ritual and the streaming hit rate. The exorcisms from our privileged perspective behind the scenes aren’t quite how they appear to the online viewer, though they clearly have some traction.
Whether the viewers actually believe what they are seeing is neither here nor there as The Cleansing Hour is a successful show with healthy viewing figures and a with nice line in merchandise too. But as is the nature of these things and the characters involved, they want more. Aided by his pal Drew (Kyle Gallner) they aim to push further.
There are dissenting voices with Drew’s partner Lane (Alix Anglis) trying to get him away from the show and to one that appreciates his talents. He promises to tell Max that the next will be his last. As it happens Lane is inadvertently pulled into the show and asked to play the part of a demonically possessed person (voiced by Tara Karsian). Natch, it’s not too difficult to work out where this is going, goes and what happens after that it does have few surprises.
Co-written by Aaron Horowitz and director Damien LeVeck its fairly blunt stuff hitting the wide-open inviting targets but at the same time featuring sharp dialogue and at times is quite funny. The cast are well served by the script, getting into the spirit of it and are all very good.
LeVeck keeps a tight control of the action; the practical effects are gruesome and nasty, making excellent use of the small set and with a terrific sound design too. It’s all gleefully bonkers and very enjoyable so you aren’t that worried that this is covering well-trod ground.
The Cleansing Hour is available now on Shudder.