A little while back I was invited to review a short film directed by Damien Leveck titled The Cleansing Hour.As a fellow content producer of the genre, I am always honored to peek behind the curtain of other creative scare meisters. Add to that my admiration of short subject narratives and I was excited to receive screening privileges and provide my two cents into the blogosphere. The concept of the film is simple: “The Cleansing Hour” is a web series that promises a new, unique exorcism each episode, streamed live, for the world to view. Unfortunately, it’s all a sham. The priest is a less-than-holy egomaniac and the possessed merely hired starlets, paid to moan, writhe and receive the rite of exorcism – all rigged to lighting effects and other not-so-paranormal stage tricks designed to provide avid on-line viewers with a few minutes of supernatural reality content. But what happens when the starlet is actually possessed by a REAL DEMON? Well, that’s exactly what writer Aaron Horwitz explores throughout the 18 or so minutes of The Cleansing Hour.
The cast is top notch, delivering worthy performances, selling the concept through and through. Sam Jaeger (American Sniper, Lucky Number Slevin) delivers a fine performance as the hypocritical Father Lance, and Heather Morris (Glee, Ice Breakers) does a fine job as Heather, the possessed starlet. Perhaps one of my favorite choices regarding the cast is that of Jonny Radtke as Braden, the substitute sound man. He is a gaunt figure, almost skeletal, and moves with an other-worldliness that haunts the scenes. Hopefully, Filter can spare the guitarist for other acting gigs.
The pacing is dead-on, and the writing is solid. Director Damien Leveck’s visuals lead us deftly through the story, punctuating the appropriate plot points without rubbing our noses in them. I particularly enjoyed the Korean policemen scenes, keenly executed by actors Joonho Huh and Wanhi Lee.
Overall I gave The Cleansing Hour 4.5 out if 5 skulls. My only complaint is that I prefer a little more grit and texture with my horror. The Cleansing Hour might have been a little too “clean” for me. Yeah I know, pea soup is passe, but I still like things to decay, rot, ooze and slither before my eyes. That said, the writing is tight. Beginning, middle and delightfully wicked end all work without fail, the performances outstanding, and the overall execution top notch. I couldn’t help thinking that the Catholic Church might want to actually stream their exorcisms live, you know, to help boost membership – I might eschew my atheism for that content!
Kudos to The Cleansing Hour – looking forward to more horror from Damien and company in the future.
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