Director: Damien LeVeck
Cast: Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis
Release Date: January 19, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
Max and Drew run a popular webcast that streams “live exorcisms” watched by millions across the globe. In reality, the exorcisms are just elaborately staged hoaxes performed by paid actors. But their fortunes take a turn when one of the actors becomes possessed by an actual demon and takes the crew hostage. In front of a rapidly growing audience, the demon subjects the crew to a series of violent challenges, threatening to expose the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other unless they come clean and reveal they’re impostors before the show is over.
Please Note: RLJE Films provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘The Cleansing Hour’ accompanies longtime friends and co-workers Max and Drew who have developed a fairly successful web series that streams “live exorcisms” that in reality are merely staged performances featuring hired actors. But when a very real (and evil) presence enters into the body they are planning to stage the fake exorcism for, the duo and their crew quickly find themselves fighting for their lives as they are forced to endure the games of this evil entity and admit their lies and shortcomings all live. As things become increasingly worse and bodies start to pile up, these friends will have to figure out what this presence truly wants from them before their relationship is thoroughly ruined by the games and revelations.
Directed by Damien LeVeck (Dark, Deadly & Dreadful, The Cleansing Hour Short Film) from a screenplay that he also co-wrote with Aaron Horwitz (Roommate Wanted, The Cleansing Hour Short Film), from an initial story by Horwitz, LeVeck does a pretty solid job at the helm of ‘The Cleansing Hour’ constantly making the most out of everything he’s working with and serving up some rewarding scares and nasty moments throughout. The film’s fairly limited cast which includes Ryan Guzman (TV’s 9-1-1), Kyle Gallner (Ghosts of War), Alix Angelis (The Magnificent Seven 2016) and a few more also deserves some credit for keeping things consistently moving along as smoothly as they do.
‘The Cleansing Hour’ is a bloody, entertaining and surprisingly clever exorcism tale that bothers to try and breathe some new life into the somewhat tired concept. ‘The Cleansing Hour’ certainly managed to exceed any early expectations I had of it thanks to its continued effort in bringing some fresh new elements and directions to the exorcism sub-genre which we can all admit has been filled with as many disappointments as winners over the years. It brings some fresh surprises and possibly even a few shocks to the overall tale and even with the majority of the movie primarily centered in one room (aside from some fans watching from their own limited environments) it repeatedly finds ways to keep us engaged and never bored. Add in some solid makeup effects and gory moments along with a surprisingly capable cast and the dedicated guidance of director Damien LeVeck, ‘The Cleansing Hour’ may not be on par with some of the greatest films in the exorcism group, but it definitely lands in the more positive echelon of recent contributions over the years and does an excellent job making great use of its limited budget and sets. Anyone who enjoys these kinds of films will probably want to try and give ‘The Cleansing Hour’ a fair chance whenever possible, you might just pleasantly surprised with the result.
Overall, ‘The Cleansing Hour’ is an enjoyable exorcism thriller that evolves beyond the more lackluster entries in the sub-genre due to its clever turns and its ability to make some wise decisions and fully utilize the limited settings and characters at its disposal in a manner that keeps viewers engaged and consistently curious about what might come next. ‘The Cleansing Hour’ is recommended for genre fans that are looking for something new and quite decent to watch one evening. It’s a fairly enjoyable and often quite bloody and intense outing with some fun turns and scenarios unfolding along its course. For genre fans (and those who appreciate the exorcism sub-genre in particular) ‘The Cleansing Hour’ should definitely be worth taking the time to make up your own mind about, especially if you’re already a subscriber to Shudder’s streaming service or able to find a cheap rental option.
The DVD release of ‘The Cleansing Hour’ is presented in a 16×9 friendly Widescreen presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty solid as a whole and delivers a smooth, clean and sharp presentation from start to finish that holds up quite nicely within the confines of the DVD format. It holds up admirably even during the various darkly lit moments throughout, never causing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a nice standard definition video presentation that should please fans of the film who are still content with the DVD format in general.
The DVD release features a 448 kbps 5.1 channel Dolby Digital soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack makes a nice compliment to the onscreen fun and tension, providing a crisp, clean and at times fairly active audio presentation throughout. It repeatedly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send some music, scare effects and bits of dialogue along with more throughout the various speakers at every fitting opportunity, while never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible along the way. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack that hits all of the right marks and should not disappoint the fans.
The DVD release of ‘The Cleansing Hour’ includes a few nice extras that fans of the film should enjoy. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Damien LeVeck and Producer Natalie LeVeck’, in addition to the original Short Film ‘The Cleansing Hour’ that served as the basis for the film (running approximately 18 minutes in length). Also included is a brief collection of Behind the Scenes footage in ‘On the Set of The Cleansing Hour’ (running approximately 2 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the DVD and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this DVD release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 6.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
‘The Cleansing Hour’ is Now Available to Own on DVD & Digital from SHUDDER & RLJE Films
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