Fantastic Fest Review: Come Clean With THE CLEANSING HOUR

The demons have joined the streaming war.

As we find ourselves amidst streaming wars between giants like Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, and the forty other services that have cropped up in the last three weeks, it’s natural to wonder how those wars might escalate. The Cleansing Hour feels like the perfect demonic answer to that question. Reverend Max (Ryan Guzman), his best friend Drew (Kyle Gallner), and their devoted production team have a pretty good gig going on their exorcism show. But they find themselves hosts to some unexpected guests before their shoot wraps.

Their show, The Cleansing Hour, features the eye candy Reverend exorcising demon after demon for followers and merch sales. Max is wrapped up in the fame of it all, whining about his lack of Twitter verification and begrudging those with more of a following than him. On the other hand, Drew just wants to help the show expand and evolve into something new so they can grow their little production into something more. Both men learn that they should be careful what they wish for before the night’s over.

The third and most impressive player in The Cleansing Hour is the show’s makeup artist, Lane (Alix Angelis). While the most vocal in her distaste for Max’s constant peacocking, she finds herself forced to step in when that night’s possession no shows. They say that the show must go on, but she probably would’ve bowed out if she knew just what that would mean for her and fiancé, Drew.

When the three of them find themselves in a very real possession scenario, they’re forced to either air their grievances and share their darkest confessions, or watch their friends die. It’s at this point that things really shift to focus on Angelis’ performance, which ends up being right in line with their reliance on practical effects whenever possible as the best decision of the movie.

The Cleansing Hour feels like the exact kind of horror flick to introduce folks to the genre. It’s not the perfect film. There are a couple of rough CGI moments, and a few clichés slip their way into the plot. But, at the end of the day, I spent a lot of the movie grinning. The script is fresh, and everything wrapped together resulted in a genuinely fun take on exorcism and possession in the digital age. Fear Dot Com meets the snark of a Supernatural demon. It plays it straight and has a hell of a lot of fun while doing it.