The Cleansing Hour is a Shudder original that released on October 08, 2020. If you were to read the synopsis, you would find that it’s about a girl who gets possessed by a demon. After you read this, you might think to yourself, “Haven’t I already watched that movie?” It feels like a been there, done that concept. In the case of The Cleansing Hour, though, you couldn’t be more wrong. I guarantee you have never seen an exorcism movie like this before.
The movie opens on Father Max (Ryan Guzman) performing an exorcism on a man. After a short battle, Father Max is able to exorcise the demon, freeing the man from its possession. The catch? It was all an act. Father Max, along with his best friend, Drew (Kyle Gallner), produce a webcast called The Cleansing Hour where they stream elaborately staged exorcisms.
Following this opening sequence, the movie proceeds to give us insight into our two main characters along with establishing the other players in the movie. This first act is all about character development, but offers some jump scares. The dialogue in this act is at times cheesy and was dangerously close to becoming campy at times.
When it comes time to film their next episode, the original actor they had hired fails to show. In a desperate attempt to avoid having to cancel, Drew asks his fiancée, Lane (Alix Angelis), to fill in as the possessed victim.
This is where the movie really starts to separate itself from other exorcism movies. Not long into the show, it’s revealed that a real demon has shown up and taken hold of Lane’s body. From here on, Father Max and the crew are forced to confess their sins and engage in the demon’s games or face the ultimate price with their lives. All this while the audience continues to look on in horror, for the cameras must never be turned off.
The movie continues at a good pace throughout, dipping a couple times, but never enough to take you out of the moment.
The last act of the film is where I feel the movie loses some points. Here we finally learn the demon’s true intentions. The intention was to give us a big twist ending, but instead it felt campy and overdone.
Oftentimes, after you finally see the spirit, entity, or creature in a film, there’s the initial state of shock, but the longer it’s on screen the more it loses its grip over you. This movie never felt that way. I found that I was drawn in to this movie and the creature in the chair at all times. The three main actors are not household names, but have some decent acting credits to their names. I can’t say what the budget of this movie was, but the special and practical effects were never lacking.
The Cleansing Hour is not going to go down in history as the best exorcism movie ever made. It will never rival The Exorcist or The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but it’s worth the watch for its originality.