The Cleansing Hour
by Hope Madden
Almost a decade ago, Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz locked a couple of fraudulent online “ghost hunters” inside an abandoned hospital in the entertaining flick Grave Encounters. It wasn’t the best “supernatural huckster faces honest demonic peril” film of that year—that award goes to Daniel Stamm’s impeccably cast The Last Exorcism.
So, fast forward about a decade and writer/director Damien LeVeck (that is a horror name, my friends) gives us a mash up of both of those movies.
The Cleansing Hour is actually a full-length version of his 2016 short of the same name. In the feature, boyhood friends Max (Ryan Guzman) and Drew (Kyle Gallner) use what they remember of their Catholic school days to fake weekly online exorcisms.
Star of the show Max is a hottie and a bit of a d-bag. Dressed like a priest, he’s in it for the fame and groupies, or as he likes to call them, disciples. Drew is the brains behind the operation. But they’ve hit a plateau. Their viewership isn’t growing as fast as they’d like. Maybe Max is looking at other opportunities. Maybe Drew should just marry longtime girlfriend Lane (Alix Angelis) and get an honest job.
Or maybe a real demon will show up for their next episode.
LeVeck and crew mine that oh-so-Catholic nightmare of shame and confession well. Performances are fine, Guzman’s pretty, but there’s so little new being said here that the film grows tedious long before its 95 minute run is up.
The Cleansing Hour plays too much like a film made by someone who’s seen a lot of horror movies but lacks an original voice. Storylines fall back, not on primal scares or universal areas of dread, but on ideas from other movies.
LeVeck’s film offers a few speeches concerning the evils of the Catholic church (nothing inspired or vital, mainly obvious and hollow), points to our unholy dependence on technology, and shows anxiety about how tech both connects us and brings out the worst in us. Also, an ugly voice comes out of a pretty face.
Familiar stuff, that.
Most problematic (but least surprising) is the twist ending that’s so tired by this point, the idea was just mocked in another horror movie that opened last week.
There’s nothing awful about The Cleansing Hour. It is perfectly serviceable low budget horror. You could watch it. Or you could find any one of the movies it steals from instead.