Shudder is starting to pump out more original programming, and one of their more recent titles, The Cleansing Hour, is a possession flick that has a lot to offer. The film is a blend of demonic possession films of the early '00s and the expansive audience of social media, live streaming, and YouTubers.
The film, in many ways, has light moments with fragmented commentary on desensitization. Still, the film has more than a few ideas it plays with that benefit the Shudder original title.
Kyle Gallner has become a horror icon with roles like Nightmare on Elm Street, A Haunting In Connecticut, Ghosts of War, and even the upcoming Scream slated for 2022. The actor has a true skill when it comes to honing in on emotional performances, which is something that really helps set horror apart from other genres.
Gallner has given plenty of strong roles in his filmography, but his character in Cleansing Hour is a little different because the entirety of the movie is a high-stakes atmosphere. Gallner cycles through the duress of his tech-savvy character, trying to outsmart a possession while his relationship, friendship, and business begin to unravel in the midst of the danger.
The actor has really grown into his own in the genre, and at this point, he's proven he can handle the spectrum of horror.
Because of the evolution of CGI, filmmakers can easily rely on post-production tricks to wow audiences for trailer-worthy instances — but this film doesn't aim to follow the standard possession formula that has shifted since the early simplistic days of found-footage horror.
The possession itself isn't all that scary so to speak, it's more of the situational moments and the horrors of one's fears, which put more emphasis on practicality. That's not to say they don't use CGI for specific scenes, however, the bold choice to make a film that is more invested in interpersonal relationships as the catalyst for horror is something that worked in the film's favor.
The Horror of Live-Streaming
The film's entire plot is centered around an exorcist with a movie-friendly platform reminiscent of YouTube, who capitalizes off these staged live-streams. His account is seeking a boost to push himself further, and the toxicity that can come from internet fame becomes a hot topic over the film's runtime.
Other films such as the recent Followed tackle these subjects as well, but with The Cleansing Hour we immediately know what's happening and it's more direct in delivery. Another fun inclusion from the film is the notion that there isn't any innocent party in the film. There's some much deception going around, that despite the film's psych-out of an honest setup, you begin to question the characters that might initially seem to be typical protagonists or victims. The ending proved not only that the internet is full of horror, but that we just can't help ourselves by participating.
The Cleansing Hour is currently available on Shudder and is getting a home release on January 2021, so check it out and experience the possession flick of the YouTuber era.