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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Review: The Cleansing Hour

Director: Damien LeVeck

Screenplay: Damien LeVeck and Aaron Horwitz

Year: 2020

Max is an exorcist who has become famous for streaming his exorcisms as part of a program. What his audience doesn't know is that Max is a fraud and the exorcisms as staged. However, things get out of control when in one of the shows, a real demon possesses a young woman, and Max and his team must prove their worth to fight against it.

For his debut full-length feature, director Damien LeVeck chose a simple and straightforward story. "The Cleansing Hour" is a possession movie that doesn't run rings to establish its plot. In this, LeVeck and Aaron Horwitz, with whom he co-writes the script, hit the target and make their story concise and with great rhythm. 

The initial scenes are dedicated to getting to know the main characters and the fraud of a program that they have made famous. As with everything in the economic script, the characters’ personalities, the dynamics between then, and the lies they have relied on for their success are relevant in the plot. LeVeck only spends the necessary amount of time getting to know the characters and doesn't make us wait long before putting us in the plot’s meat. 

At first, the protagonists’ acting, particularly that of Ryan Guzmán ("Heroes Reborn") as Max, sends some worrisome signals about the movie’s quality. Luckily, once we get into the real possession, this takes a positive turn. While I didn't enjoy Guzmán's acting, I was amazed by the excellent work of Alix Angelis ("The Magnificent Seven"), who interprets the possessed young woman.

As with the acting, the special effects suffer from being in opposite extremes. While the practical effects are well done, the CGI is embarrassingly bad, to where they seem to have been done using technology from the '90s.

"The Cleansing Hour" offers a simple and straightforward plot, where its concise script helps it keep a great rhythm and where almost everything that it shows is relevant to the plot. The acting and the special effects cover the full range between excellence and embarrassment, where Alix Angelis stands out with her interpretation of the possessed woman. In general, Shudder has brought a great possession movie with an atypical ending that I cannot classify as bad, but I wasn't a fan.

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