Directed by Damien LeVeck
Written by Damien LeVeck and Aaron Horwitz
Starring Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis
For those of you in need of an update to the age-old battle between demons and exorcists, Damien LeVeck’s The Cleansing Hour brings the war for our souls firmly into the digital age. Hitting VOD, Digital HD and DVD on January 19, you now have another chance to catch this ruckus midnighter if you happened to miss it on the festival circuit or Shudder.
In what would probably be the plot of a rebooted version of William Friedkin’s classic, best friends Max (Guzman) and Drew (Gallner) take the exorcism show from Reagan’s bedroom to everyone’s small screen with a bogus webcast showing sham possessions for entertainment. A priest in name only, Max is more of an opportunist and wannabe influencer obsessed with that elusive checkmark every Tik-Tok tweener covets.
Replete with cheesy special effects and chinsy infomercial graphics, their show “The Cleansing Hour” actually does have its followers believe it or not. When a mystery demon actually comes down the pipeline to possess Drew’s girlfriend Lane (Angelis) live On Air, Max and Drew battle against the clock to find out the demon’s true identity and save her life. It’s a real ratings getter!
Besides the demon’s star turn, Kyle Gallner is the lifeblood of The Cleansing Hour, continuing a streak of intense performances that elevate the material (while actual things are levitating all around him). Guzman as the pretty boy priest at a spiritual crossroads is fearless, especially when tasked with a Sophie’s choice bordering on torture and humiliation in front of a growing audience. Angelis also turns the demon switch on and off to torment and entice Drew as they all find themselves in a new iteration of the same ole metaphysical mindfuck.
As some of the characters unfortunately find out, a demon is just like a fortune teller. You don’t want to get a reading if you have anything to hide. In a clever plot point, Max and Drew must find out the name of the demon in order to expel it from Lane’s body. This particular demon, however, must be a Leo because it really likes being in the spotlight. But I guess most demons like attention, it’s not like they get a chance to stand out in Hell.
We can all pretend that we wouldn’t tune in to an actual live exorcism, especially if all we had to do was click a button on our smart phone. The Cleansing Hour isn’t concerned with the larger themes of good and evil or reigniting your sense of spirituality. If the director LeVeck does have a message it’s this: It may seem harmless to watch something you probably shouldn’t but you will bring harm to others if you do.
The Cleansing Hour is available available on VOD, Digital HD & DVD on January 19.
Since demons don’t necessarily stand out in Hell, some of them crave the spotlight just as much as us insecure humans do.