THE CLEANSING HOUR (REVIEW)
Dir. Damien LeVeck
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Drew (Kyle Gallner) and Max (Ryan Guzman), share their exorcisms online but when they finally come face to face with a real demonic possession, their hoaxes and secrets are showcased to the world in real time. As the demon possesses one of their crew, Lane (Alix Angelis) and ultimately takes control of the viewership, she meddles with their sanity in a fight for survival as the viewer numbers rise further.
Praying on each of the crew until they unleash their secrets on live stream, each one has a personal challenge to fight for survival against. It's hard to say whether this is a comedy or meant to be scary but either way there's definitely a reason to laugh, even if it's at the expense of the film maker. There's kudos for trying to bring life into the genre of exorcism but this sure isn't the saviour. The tone is mixed and the secrets are hardly life and death for a demon to really play with meaning the gritty violence doesn't quite marry up to what is playing out on screen.
At one point the exorcism becomes a SAW-esque battle for survival seeing the exorcists doing the okie cokey in front of a spinning fan and broken glass. That is no way relatable to genre classics like THE EXORCIST and THE LAST EXORCISM but there's kudos to bringing this possession to life. The tonal shifts from humour (intentional or not) really hamper the real grotesque and horrifying nature of the actual demonic possessions and there's much credit to not making a farce of Lane's custody.
The themes and cinematography are spot on but as the demon provides a wise crack after every moment of genuine terror, whether it be a vicious neck slice after an halligenic demon attacks one of the crew ("Don't do drugs kids"?) or a random police officer watching along like nothing else is happening, there are too many misses to make this the decent horror film it should be. Surely a demon who forces people to tell the truth is an angel, after all, it is the way of the righteous to keep people on the correct path, right?
The most puzzling piece is a fight at the films climax after the demon had provided physical manipulation of items and shared hallucinations, cannot somehow force the stream back online, then what follows is an online incantation that just feels a little too far reliant on technology for an age old battle against a demon.
With a genuinely creepy performance from Alix Angelis, there are worse ways to pass through ninety minutes but there are much better exorcism films out there that a more enjoyable and chilling than anything on offer here.