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John’s Horror Corner: The Cleansing Hour (2019, aka The Devil’s Hour), a mediocre exorcism movie in which a team of charlatan exorcists get theirs.

April 17, 2021

MY CALL: This was not good, and I dare not recommend it to anyone. However, a trusted fellow reviewer I know and trust quite liked this movie. So take my opinion with a grain of salt. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Cleansing Hour: The Unborn (2009), Grave Encounters (2011) or The Last Exorcism (2010).

Like Grave Encounters (2011) or The Last Exorcism (2010), the showrunners of a popular “live exorcism” webcast quickly reveal that the show is completely scripted down to the priest’s vows and the visual demonic manifestations. When one of their scripted sham exorcisms suddenly becomes very real, it gets interesting for our exorcism crew.

This initially has the vibe of a direct-to-VHS late 90s-era horror flick. Everyone is slick and stylish, but the writing just doesn’t sound as good as the characters think it does. The movie begins weak on all cylinders, and then burns the clutch when it tries harder.

There were some genuinely shocking moments. A man bursts into flames and it plays out far better than just a gag, complete with the cindered flesh of the victim reaching out and touching another crewman leaving charred remains stuck to them. This gave me hope for the film… but then everything that followed was retreading all too familiar ground with nothing new to add and unmotivated special effects. The possession vomiting looked great, but the execution of events around it (and maybe even the editing) softened its bite to such point that it just felt weak.

Our sham demon-battling priest (Ryan Guzman; The Boy Next Door) has some cheeky character moments; the possession victim (Alix Angelis) delivers some fingernail-cracking flair; and the producer (Kyle Gallner; Jennifer’s Body, The Cleanse) is the strongest character carrying the movie largely by himself. Ultimately, I felt the writing lacked the synthesis to link the scenes and muster dread. Often, I could see the movie was trying. But the introduction of the invisible rat-dog hellhounds and the full-form revelation of the demon at the end took me from finding this movie maaaaaaybe passable, to regrettable.

I’m not thrilled that I spent my time watching this, more often finding myself annoyed than amused. But at times it was somewhat entertaining. “At times” being far from most of the time. Most of the time I was underwhelmed by the weak sauce brought to the table. Director and co-writer Damien LeVeck (Dark, Deadly & Dreadful) had a nice idea, not original but nice enough for a movie. The follow-through just isn’t there.

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