Friday, October 9, 2020

The Cleansing Hour (2020) - Shudder Spree

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: The Cleansing Hour (2020)
Genre: Horror
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Production/Distribution: Skubalon, CJ CGV Viet Nam, Digi-Optic Films, Westec Media Limited, EuroVideo, Lumix Media, New Select, Première TV Distribution, Shudder, Source 1 Media, The Filmbridge
Director: Damien LeVeck
Writer: Damien LeVeck, Aaron Horwitz
Actors: Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, Emma Holzer, Joanna David, Tara Karsian, Jynarra Brinson, Ana Udroiu, Lucas Bond, Aaron McVeigh
Blurb from IMDb: Another successful "exorcism" streamed online - or so it seems. Can the "exorcist", producer and their team bring the ratings up? Ratings skyrocket, when a real demon gets involved.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m one of those people who feel like the exorcist sub-genre is getting little stale. (You know that means a lot coming from someone who’s not sick of zombies yet, right?) The Cleansing Hour breathed some new life into exorcisms and brought it into modern day.
The plot drew me in, but I was concerned by it. The idea that a fake, streamed, exorcism would become real was one that I felt could fail easily. One or two bad actors, a misstep in the writing/directing, or even just a sub-par setting could have tanked the whole thing. Everything had to be in place for this film to wind up being worth anything.
It fucking was.
Before today I had never heard of director Damien LeVeck (ASYLUM: Twisted Horror and Fantasy Tales, Dark Deadly & Dreadful, Attraction) or writer Aaron Horwitz (Roommate Wanted, Boiler Maker, Peaceful Warrior). In fact, I knew very little about the three main leads: Ryan Guzman (Papi Chulo, Armed, Heroes Reborn), Kyle Gallner (Alien Code, Outsiders, The Finest Hours), and Alix Angelis (The Magnificent Seven, ECCO, Love’s Last Resort). Now, I want to see so much more from all of them. This movie is exactly the reason why I love to give movies a chance, even when I know nothing about the people involved.

The scares were so effective that I yelped at one point. Out loud. My husband sent me a message on discord laughing at me.
I wasn’t overly fond of the way they made one of the creatures look, though. I think most of the reasons the scares were so reliable was because they didn’t rely on CGI all that much. A lot of it was left to the imagination and, as we’ve seen a lot in film, audiences can imagine much worse than most budgets will allow.
Adding in the hounds was a mistake. I get what they were going for in the scene, but they might have done better with practical effects – using large dogs, for example. It would have hit even harder because the lower quality images wouldn’t have been so distracting.
The ending was an unexpectedly terrifying touch. It tied up loose ends and left the audience with a feeling of doom that I don’t think most other horror films accomplish these days.
I think The Cleansing Hour is a perfect Halloween film. This is the kind of thing you wait to start until like 11:30pm on October 31, just so you’re deep in the scares by midnight.
I’m having a great time with Shudder Spree.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have a confession to make. I am a lover of paranormal reality TV shows – at least, some of them. While I don’t feel like events exactly like those in this movie would happen as a result of watching, I still feel that it's counter-intuitive to support them with my viewership.
There are several factors that helped draw me into this story and kept a firm grip on me from beginning to end. My guilty-pleasure enjoyment of explorations into the unknown is only a fraction.
I was raised Roman Catholic. I attended parochial school until high school when I was finally able to attend public school. Daily catechism class, Mass twice a week, and all the trappings that went along with it were my routines for the better part of my school career. My point is that, while the nuns that taught me during my earliest school years weren’t as scary or seemingly cruel as most church-school horror stories make out, I did encounter a few that, in hindsight, reminds me of the Potter-verse’s Dolores Umbridge.
You don’t have to have a background like mine to buy into this story, though. It’s spelled out rather well for the viewer.
The Cleansing Hour impresses me on several levels. The cast was amazing in their roles. Ryan Guzman is already among my favorite actors for his versatility and even dance talent. Recently, I’ve come to a better appreciation for Kyle Gallner’s work, and it was great to see an entirely different aspect of his range here. Alix Angelis hasn’t really been on my radar, but I can tell you that I’ll be looking out for more of her work in the future.

Another aspect of this movie that had me over the moon was the effects employed. I appreciated the theatrics and ‘smoke and mirror’ tricks revealed to be part of the ‘exorcism act.’ Though when things start to ‘get real’ here, this production didn’t skimp where it came to the visuals. The set was amazing, the creep-factor of some of the demonic creatures was spine-chilling, and I bought every minute of it.
I can tell you I’ll be stuck awake for a bit tonight to try and get some of these visuals out of my mind before I attempt to sleep. Hurricane Delta baring down on my state already has me in a hyper-worried and anxious frame of mind. I think that existing underlying tension only better fueled the chills and thrills this movie provided.
There was only one thing negative about this experience for me – and it has absolutely zero to do with the movie, itself. It was crazy, really. I was streaming on my laptop and my Wi-Fi integrity started dropping every 10-15 minutes, causing the movie to freeze. I had to refresh the service over and over – and while it was frustrating, I wasn’t pulled from the story. I was able to dive right back in. I could joke and say that it was possessed…but I can hear everyone groaning and rolling eyes over that statement.
This is the second viewing in a row where the film delivered everything I wanted from our Shudder Spree and then some.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice Parental Advisory Rating: R
P.S.: Some sounds and stills during the credits.
Movie Trailer:

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