DVD Review: The Cleansing Hour

By , Contributor
Though it made its festival premiere in 2019, then became available to stream via the Shudder app in 2020, The Cleansing Hour has now been released to DVD. Directed by Damien LeVeck, this exorcism-themed scarefest has been met with considerable acclaim. For old school horror buffs (i.e. those who like their blood and guts tangible rather than digital), Cleansing is a treat. The pacing, even at a relatively scant 90 minutes, becomes an issue but those who dig exorcism flicks will find much to appreciate.

Max (Ryan Guzman, Backtrace, The Boy Next Door) and Drew (Kyle Gallner, Veronica Mars, Big Love) are buddies who regularly livestream a staged exorcism show (same title as the movie itself). They sucker people into thinking it's the real thing, making a lucrative ancillary profit selling merch. Drew's girlfriend Lane (Alix Angelis) is called upon to fill in for an absent actress in an upcoming broadcast. Though intending to portray yet another simulated "possession," she somehow she becomes possessed for real. The Cleansing Hour boasts solid production values (given its low budget) and, at least equally important, strong performances.

Given that, within the movie, "The Cleansing Hour" is a web-based schlockfest, Max and Drew's livelihood naturally hinges upon roping in as many viewers as possible. The "viral video" aspect of the plot veers into somewhat satirical commentary about today's social media-obsessed world. This ends up feeling a bit cliched rather than cutting edge. Web views keep escalating as Max and Drew's real exorcism of the demon possessing Lane gets more and more out of control. And the demon itself appears to have bigger plans. But while Cleansing may not score points based solely on originality, it's sturdily crafted enough to maintain interest.

The DVD contains the original 19-minute short film that served as the basis for the feature. It's an interesting contrast as most, though not quite all, of the footage and actors are different. It offers a different, albeit highly-condensed, look at the same story from a slightly different stylistic presentation. There's also some behind-the-scenes footage and commentary by director LeVeck. For fans of The Cleansing Hour, the bonus features make it worth going for the physical product rather than just streaming on Shudder.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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