The Cleansing Hour has proven itself to be an indie-horror gem for its use of practical effects and a standout cast, with veteran horror actor Kyle Gallner playing a key factor in the possession film.
Gallner, who has made a reputation for himself through films like The Haunting in Connecticut, Jennifer's Body, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, helps run a YouTube-style paranormal channel with Livestream exorcisms for the masses. In partnership with his friend (and face of the channel), the two-stage exorcisms and paranormal occurrences to drum up viewers — ultimately generating merchandise sales. It's a direct commentary on the internet-fame that seems more attainable than ever, and of course, the events take a drastic turn that kicks off the real horror. The film has a high-energy intensity throughout but manages to maintain some of the fun that the genre was known to have before the quick trend of CGI enhanced scares.
With nods to films like The Exorcist or The Last Exorcism, The Cleansing Hour brings originality to the sub-genre, and Gallner's ability to keep the film heightened was one of its secret weapons. We recently had the opportunity to speak to the actor about the film, as well as how he became involved in The Cleansing Hour. He tells us, "I got sent the script to read to see if I was something I would be interested in, and if I was, a meeting with Damien would be set up. I read the script, and I really enjoyed it, so me and Damien spoke and hit it off. I thought the take on the genre was really unique and fun. I liked what it was saying about social media and how toxic it can be, I thought it had good character development and gore, and I was excited about the use of practical effects."
Elaborating on the social media aspect of the film, he acknowledges the parallels and says, "It really does feel pretty true to life. You have so many people who are willing to do all sorts of crazy things just to get a taste of internet fame." Though despite the source material of clearly-staged paranormal YouTuber content, Gallner tells us, "I actually did not fall down any paranormal rabbit holes, now I wish I had!" The Cleansing Hour Star has found a steady following of his own for his contributions to the horror genre, and his name is a genuine reason for many to trust a project.
Because it seems like he naturally excelled in the genre, we asked the actor about his introduction to horror, and he explains, "I grew up watching all kinds of things. My parents never really told me I couldn't watch something. They actually encouraged me to explore all different genres, so I grew up watching horror films. I would say I watched them more often as I got older, but I have always enjoyed them." Gallner concluded, " I consider myself very lucky to be part of the horror community."
As mentioned, the film has a respectable amount of originality, which typically results in a thrill ride for viewers, and Gallner discussed his reaction to that first initial read through. He shares, "The initial read of the script was a lot of fun. I found it funny and dark and emotional. As you said, there are good reveals and plot twists. I also think something this film does well is develop the characters. while you have plenty of gore, It's not just about a body count; you get to know these people as the story goes on, which I also really liked." The project openly embraced the more challenging atmospheric scares that make a set more lively when it came to filming.
The practical effects appeared to be a fun addition for viewers, critics, and those involved. Gallner further detailed when sharing his favorite on-set memory from the film that uses more traditional scares. Gallner admits, "I love practical effects, and so does Damien. It was actually one of the things I was most excited about. One thing I will never forget is the day with the devil. when they walked him in, my jaw kind of hit the floor." In response to those who might have missed that inclusion, he adds, "It's funny because I have read some things on Twitter about the film, and one thing that I have seen people complain about once or twice is the devil. They think it's CGI, which is hilarious. That thing was seven feet tall and standing right in front of me. I guess in a weird way, them thinking it was a CGI creature is a bit of a compliment."
Aside from the looming devil, the actor shares another intense sequence explaining, "Another nasty moment was the day we had to pull the prayer cloth out of Alix's mouth. She is the total MVP of this film. She went through hell and back and did it all with a smile on her face. That cloth was covered in some kind of goop, and she had to do that scene like 10 times. It made me squirm every time I watched them do it." Knowing that Gallner is going to star in the highly-anticipated revival of the iconic horror franchise Scream (2022), we had to take the opportunity to ask about the film — despite being very aware that the film is shrouded in secrecy for a good reason.
When asked about the blend of new and returning cast, he shares, "You are right; I'm not allowed to say anything! But I will say it was a great experience. We all had a lot of fun, and getting to spend time with the returning cast was exciting for everyone. It was a gift getting to listen to stories about filming the original movies, and everyone was so generous with their time. As for the new cast, they were also awesome. Everyone was so game and took the job very seriously. It wasn't lost on anyone what we were making and how lucky we were to be part of such an iconic franchise." Of course, Scream just wouldn't be Scream without a certain commitment to bloodshed and chase scenes, to which Gallner reassures us, "It is safe to assume there will be blood and all things scream."
The Cleansing Hour is now available on DVD, VOD, and Digital.