Shudder Original The Cleansing Hour was added to the streaming platform on October 8, and if you like possession flicks, this one will be perfect for you.
The Cleansing Hour began life as a short film in 2016, and the feature length adaptation has an all-new cast, including actor/model/MMA fighter Ryan Guzman as Father Max. The plot is simple enough in the beginning. Max and his best friend Drew host a livestream show called The Cleansing Hour, in which they perform a live exorcism for each episode.
What the devoted followers of the show don’t know is that the exorcisms are fake, with actors playing the unfortunate possessed souls. Max and Drew (played by Kyle Galher) are on a quest to build viewership up to the point where Max can be “verified” on social media, and Max is fully enjoying the perks of being internet famous. Drew, on the other hand, is in a solid relationship with Lane, and the two of them plan to get married.
When the actress who is supposed to perform in their latest exorcism doesn’t show up on set, Drew persuades Lane to fill in, and even though she doesn’t seem to like Max, she agrees to the plan. And by the way, there is a reason the other actress didn’t show up, and it isn’t pretty.
Max leads into the exorcism with his usual opening shtick, but to his chagrin, Lane isn’t responding as she is supposed to. It soon becomes clear why she isn’t cooperating, because we can tell as soon as she sits up that Lane is truly possessed. Lane (or rather, the demon inside Lane) threatens to kill every person on set unless Max and Drew keep the cameras rolling and build up their viewership.
As the show goes on, Max is forced to humiliate himself by doing the demon’s bidding, and then he is told that he must confess his sins. While all of this is going on, more and more viewers are tuning in, and we see The Cleansing Hour’s fans enthralled by the insane, often bloody streaming events.
This is an intense, scary film, with unexpected twists and reveals. Possession films are not generally my favorites in the horror genre, but The Cleansing Hour is exceptional. While it included the usual exorcism tropes (reading from the bible, the sprinkling of holy water, etc.), I really appreciated some new and exciting additions to the same old, same old.
The acting performances are great, particularly that of Alix Angeles as Lane. She gives a superb performance, and her body language once Lane is possessed is just fantastic. Her performance sent chills down my spine. Ryan Guzman and Kyle Galher both give convincing performances as well.
The Cleansing Hour is perfect for watching during the week of Halloween, so if you are not a current Shudder subscriber, get to it! New subscribers can receive a free 7-day trial subscription by visiting the website.
Are you a fan of possession films? Tell us which are your favorites in the comments section.