The Cleansing Hour

Movie review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
The Cleansing Hour Movie Poster Image
Gory exorcism tale has graphic violence, strong language.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Admitting your faults and errors will free you from shame. Online trolling isn't a positive aspect of society.

Positive Role Models

Lane, the young woman possessed by the demon, tries to resist possession and occasionally aides in her own exorcism. Tries to sacrifice herself for the greater good.

Violence

Lots of violence, blood, and gore. An older woman with a bloody face and a missing eye haunts characters throughout. A man in a dark alley attacks and presumably kills a woman. A man falls backward, hits his head, and gets knocked out. Another man's fingers are bitten off when he shoves them down the throat of a possessed woman. He later walks on glass barefoot (lots of cuts and bits of glass shown going into his feet) and steps into a noose, eventually hanging himself for a few minutes before the ropes collapse, saving him. A young woman dies when a sharp statue goes through her head. A man is set on fire and burns to death. He crawls to a young woman and leaves half his face on her leg, also burning her leg. A young man hallucinates a monster attacking him. He then takes a knife and cuts himself all over his body until finally slicing his neck open. Two young boys in a classroom get beaten, abused, and tortured by a teacher. The teacher yells at them, hits them, and forces them to kneel on sharp bottle caps until their knees bleed (also standing on their legs to make the pain worse). The teacher also slams one of the boys' heads on the desk multiple times until the other boy pushes the teacher. The teacher then falls, and a pencil pierces one of her eyes and kills her. Characters are electrocuted, beaten, punched, set on fire, choked, stabbed, thrown, and hit by objects like tables, chairs, electronic equipment. A montage of murder and killing shows a boy stabbing and killing his sleeping mother, chefs in a kitchen stabbing each other, and two men grinding a man's face on a spinning motorcycle wheel. One man pushes another man's face onto a burning grill; his flesh is shown ripping from his face. A fictitious U.S. presidential family is murdered in the Oval Office when the "first son" begins to stab his family members while gunshots ring out all around.

Sex

A couple make out at a bar. Couples romantically kiss. A woman puts her hand onto a man's inner thigh. A man wears only a towel at his waist, gets into a bed naked (no genitalia shown). A woman in a bra then gives the man oral sex under the covers. A man strips but covers up with his hands. Discussion of a internet star sleeping with fans and "groupies." A woman is shown about to sexually please a man before the footage gets cut.  

Language

Frequent use of "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "p---y," "d--k," "a--hole," "ass," "c--k," "c--ksucker," "bitch," "hell," and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man drinks beer and discusses drinking more later. A man offers another man ecstasy before taking one himself. He's then shown "tripping." Talk of not being high during work. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cleansing Hour is a horror movie about two young men making online videos about exorcisms and a young woman who gets possessed by a demon. The two friends will face their own demons while trying to exorcise one from a young woman who's tied to a chair. With a clever twist on the possession-exorcism genre, expect lots of ridiculously bloody chaos. Also expect lots of violence and gore. Characters get punched, kicked, thrown, stabbed, cut, strangled, hanged, burned, and impaled. A man gets his fingers bitten off by a woman. Another man imagines a monster attacking him, so he takes a knife and cuts himself all over, eventually slicing his own throat. Faces are pushed onto burning stoves, grills, and spinning motorcycle wheels. Physical abuse and torture of kids by a teacher. A fictitious U.S. presidential family gets murdered by the "first son." Criticism of the Catholic Church. Strong language throughout includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "p---y," "d--k," "a--hole," "ass," "c--k," "c--ksucker," "bitch," "hell," and "damn." Drinking and drug use. A woman gives a man oral sex under the covers.

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What's the story?

In THE CLEANSING HOUR, two friends from childhood, Max (Ryan Guzman) and Drew (Kyle Gallner), respectively star and produce an online web show that features Max as a priest who performs exorcisms. But Max is no priest and the exorcisms and the show are fake. There are actors and scripts and special effects and lighting rigs to enhance the believability. But soon, the two friends find themselves caught in a real exorcism. Will they have what it takes to defeat the demon inside the possessed? Will they trust each other enough to get past childhood traumas?

Is it any good?

This horror film will surprise many with its decent cast, clever twist on the exorcism genre, and efficient use of practical effects. The Cleansing Hour isn't incredibly scary, but it's incredibly violent and gory, with buckets of blood. The film tries to out-gross with interesting ways of killing off characters. Amidst the chaos during the exorcism gone wrong, the demon psychologically toys with, tricks, and tortures its victims. The acting and performances are surprisingly strong and believable, especially Alix Angelis, who plays Lane, the young woman possessed. Unfortunately, she's primarily restricted to thrashing about in a chair, but she clearly seems to relish the opportunity.  

The film, though, is by no means perfect. It clearly isn't saying anything beyond "social media is bad" or "people can be horrible online." The set up and twist are purely meant as simply prompts to launch creative violence, gore, and ways to kill and harm characters. Some viewers may take issue with the film's blanket criticism of the Catholic Church, physical abuse and torture of kids by a teacher, or by the extremely heavy use of strong language. But for fans of the genre, expect a fun, but definitely not perfect, creative, and bloody time. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about exorcisms in movies. Does The Cleansing Hour follow conventional themes in the genre? Why do you think exorcism is such a popular genre in horror? What might be a metaphor for exorcism in horror movies?

  • Did you agree with the criticism of social media and online culture? What was the film trying to say? How do you think this would play out if it happened in real life?

  • How did you find the violence and gore? Was it presented realistically? Creatively? Did you desire more or less of it? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

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