THE CLEANSING HOUR (October 24th)


YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...

It's tough for exorcism movies. Like shark movies, they seem destined to forever live in the shadow of a movie that set the standards almost unreachably high. Will there ever be a better shark movie than Jaws? Unlikely. Can The Exorcist be topped? Good luck. These are the yardsticks by which subsequent movies in these genres have been measured since the 70s and although we've had some features that have been pretty solid, none have come close to capturing the power and respect of those two giants. However, maybe we should just take films on their own merit a little bit more. Is The Shallows as good as Jaws? Nope, but it's a lot of fun. The Last Exorcism is also not comparable to Friedkin's classic but it's still an effective tale of possession. I'm quite fond of these particular sub genres and they both have the ability to unsettle me quite a lot. I barely go into the sea and will never venture beyond a certain point and that's all down to an (irrational fear) of sharks (what, they could be in Felixstowe?!). Possession movies are an odd one. I don't have a fear of being possessed and I am an atheist too – so there's no logical explanation for getting too worried about any of it. I guess the fear of the devil is ever present from childhood, regardless of whether you 'believe' or not. I haven't seen a decent exorcism movie for a couple of years (I had high hopes for Deliver Us From Evil but that didn't pan out) so when I saw a new movie on Shudder called The Cleansing Hour, it was a foregone conclusion.


Childhood BFF's Max and Drew host a livestream web series called 'The Cleansing Hour. Whilst Drew does all the behind the scenes guff, Max dons a robe and becomes Father Max – and exorcises a new possessed person every week. Thousands of enthralled people tune in every week to see the hunky priest vanquish evil. But it's all fake. The whole thing is scripted and uses practical effects to fool the viewer into thinking they are seeing real exorcisms. Max is not bothered about getting rid of evil spirits, he's more interested in using his fame to bed women and try and up his number social media followers. However, when one of the actors due to play a possessed victim fails to show one night, one of the crew, Drew's girlfriend Lane, reluctantly steps in. The show begins and Max begins his rehearsed performance and initially it seems that Lane is playing along rather well. But Max and the rest of the crew begin to suspect very quickly that something is wrong and that Lane might actually be genuinely possessed...


The Cleansing Hour is based on a short of the same name by Director Damien Leveck - who directs this full length feature too. It's also Leveck's first feature. I never fail to be amazed by the amount of really solid films by first time directors and The Cleansing Hour, although imperfect and frustrating at times, is another to add to the list. In it's early stages it feels a bit clunky as we spend 15 minutes or so 'character building' with is what essentially is a rather sketchy and 2d group of people. In fact, the lead, Max, is something of a misogynistic, narcissistic asshole and it's not always easy to root for him, even when things get really bad. However some handy little flashbacks give him just about enough depth so garner a modicum of empathy. There is a fair bit of social (media) commentary here and it can be quite ham fisted at times. Throughout the film we are flip flop around people tuning into the webcast from all over the world and these elements are a little bit overdone. We don't need much of this. We get it, millions of people are watching. However, at least it seems justified by the end...


Anyway, that all sounds like I hated the film – but I didn't. Although the social media/tech stuff is prone to not age very well, the crux of the film is about how far you are willing to go for fame – and the evils of pursuing fame in the first place. The films serves as a decent enough social satire on this but it's where the story goes that impresses most. For much of it, it feels as if it is headed somewhere quite predictable but credit to Leveck for being so bold and inventive in the last ten minutes or so. Whilst there isn't much new in terms of the possession horror stuff, it's all grimly realised and the cinematography from Jean-Phillipe Bernier is really dark and grimy and intense. The practical effects are solid too and there's something almost reminiscent of The Evil Dead about it. In fact, in much the same way that Raimi's Evil Dead films didn't take themselves too seriously, The Cleansing House fully commits and embraces its rather ludicrous nature and set up and if you go with it, it's gruesomely entertaining. The Exorcist this is not – but it's still a cool enough trip to hell.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
  • email icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon