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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

A True Cleansing!

Max (Ryan Guzman) is a young and handsome Catholic priest who, together with his buddy Drew (Kyle Gallner), streams a once-a-week show where he performs exorcisms on unlucky devils that have been possessed. Or does he? Turns out, it’s all phony; Max isn’t a real priest and the exorcisms aren’t real, either. He’s trying to be an internet celebrity and he uses what little fame he has (he’s trying to get his viewing numbers up so he can be blue-check verified on Twitter) to hawk blessed healing towels that are Vatican-approved (they’re neither of the sort) and other knick-knacks. He’s mildly successful but highly egotistical, and his buddy Drew is thinking of leaving because he’s tired of the deception and tired of not getting enough credit for his work. Also, Drew’s girlfriend, Lane (Alix Angelis) wants him to move on. And then one night, something goes horribly wrong. The next actress that is supposed to be “possessed” doesn’t show up, and Lane has to step in because the livestream is about to start. Thing is, a very real demon has been lurking around, and it takes very real possession of Lane. Locking the crew in with her, the demon begins to make demands, and Max and Drew must somehow find a way to cast the evil spirit out and survive the night.

What a load of fun this movie was! There’s a lot going on here, from the excellent possession scenes to the manipulations by the demon, to the stripping bare of the lives of Max and Drew and the skinning of their close friendship. The demon demands confessions from Max or it will kill and mutilate the remaining crew members, as well as further torture poor Lane. As the movie progresses, we learn more and more about Max and what a jerk he really is, but also what terrible tragedies he’s gone through. We learn the eggshell-fragile nature of his long friendship with Drew, and we also learn some things about little old possessed Lane, as well. All of this is mixed with a helping of high weirdness and gore and a rising sense of panic and suspense. Director Damien LeVeck deftly builds the terror and horror using humor and the complexity of the characters, bringing everything to an almost unbearable boiling point. The actors are all terrific, but special mention has to go to Angelis as she really carries the bulk of the movie. Her possession is fantastic and one of the best ever portrayed in cinema. Yeah, I said it. All of this combines to create a movie that will have you laughing, cringing, shielding your eyes, and then laughing again, often all in the space of a few seconds.

The Cleansing Hour is very simply a great horror film. This is how you do it, utilizing a small budget and crew. Things get intimate quickly and you begin to care deeply for all of the characters; as they hurt, so do you. Soon you are rooting hard for the protagonists, even as profoundly flawed as they are. When they finally break out the actual exorcism, I was cheering them on. So yes, highly recommended. This one is a modern classic.


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