The Cleansing Hour

DVD REVIEW:

RLJ/Shudder;
Horror;
$27.97 DVD;
Not rated.
Stars Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Daniel Hoffmann-Gill, Emma Holzer, Joanna David.

Old-school horror gets a social media update in director Damien LeVeck’s The Cleansing Hour, an effectively disturbing film about exorcisms in the age of the Internet.

The story centers on a pair of friends named Max (Ryan Guzman) and Drew (Kyle Gallner) who live-stream a series in which actual exorcisms are supposedly performed. Max serves in the role as the priest and basks in the fame of it (even touting his personal Twitter handle on air instead of the show’s), while Drew handles the behind-the-scenes duties and logistical tasks such as sending out cheap merchandise to the show’s unsuspecting fans.

The show is actually a hoax using actors and special effects, but it still has managed to attract a small audience of loyal followers.

However, Max and Drew’s plans go awry when actual supernatural forces intervene. Drew’s girlfriend Lane (Alix Angelis) is forced to step in at the last minute to play the possessed victim when the intended performer doesn’t show up. Then an actual demon possesses her and turns the show into a personal hell for Max and Drew, forcing long-buried secrets to emerge while the morbidly fascinated online audience continues to grow.

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The film uses a mix of mostly practical effects and a bit of CGI to craft some truly creepy scares and chilling death scenes, particularly when the demon immolates one of the crew members by turning his flame tattoos into actual fire.

While the film bears the look and feel of a typical exorcism movie, it offers enough interesting character work and some nice plot twists to keep it from seeming too derivative.

The film is a longer version of a story LeVeck first explored in a 2016 short film of the same name, which runs 18 minutes and is included on the DVD.

Also included is a two-and-a-half minute “On the Set” montage of footage of scenes behind filmed with no context or narration.

The film also comes with a commentary track from LeVeck and his wife Natalie, who is also one of the film’s producers, as they discuss his love of the genre and other tidbits about making the film on an indie budget. Interestingly, at one point they tease an extra of time-lapse footage of Angelis being put into demon makeup, but such a video doesn’t appear to have made its way to the DVD.

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Warner’s ‘The Little Things’ Helps Pandemic Weekend Box Office Top $10 Million

The little things do matter, especially during a pandemic. Warner Bros. Pictures’ criminal thriller The Little Things, starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Remi Malek and Jared Leto, topped the domestic weekend box office (Jan. 29-31) with an estimated $4.8 million in ticket sales across more than 2,100 screens.

The drama about a burned-out Kern County, Calif. deputy sheriff (Washington) who teams up with a Los Angeles County Sheriff detective (Malek) to nab a serial killer (Leto) proved successful with COVID-19 moviegoers despite launching concurrently on HBO Max as part of Warner’s 2021 strategy to release its theatrical slate simultaneously on the $14.99 monthly subscription streaming platform.

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“We are absolutely thrilled by how Warner Bros.’ The Little Things is performing on HBO Max — it immediately shot up to number one, where it currently remains,” said Andy Forssell, EVP and GM at Max, said in a statement. “Following the breakthrough success of WW84, The Little Things shows the insatiable appetite our audience has for high quality, feature films.”

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation’s perennial pandemic box office champ, The Croods: A New Age, again proved a strong attraction on the big screen and home entertainment. The sequel finished No. 2 generated $1.8 million in ticket sales to bring its global tally to $144.3 million, including $44 million domestically.

Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984 rounded out the podium with $1.3 million in ticket sales, bringing the Gal Gadot-starrer past $152$ million at the global box office ($40 million domestically).

Previous weekend box office winner The Marksman saw the Open Road Films drama starring Liam Neeson generate $1.25 million in ticket sales for $8.5 million worldwide total since bowing Jan. 15. Sony Pictures’ Monster Hunter tracked $740,000 in ticket sales to up its global count near $20 million ($11.1 million domestically) since launching Dec. 18, 2020.

CW’s ‘Superman & Lois’ Top Anticipated New Show on February TV Time Chart

The CW’s “Superman & Lois” was the top anticipated new show, and the CBC’s “Workin’ Moms” the top anticipated returning show, on the TV Time Charts for February.

TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by more than 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

“Superman & Lois,” debuting on the CW Feb. 23, follows the famous superhero and journalist, who after years of facing supervillains, monsters, and aliens, try to deal with the stress and complexities that come with raising two boys as working parents.

Season five of the comedy “Workin’ Moms” debuts Feb. 16 on Canada’s CBC.

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Netflix took two of the top five spots on the new show chart. At No. 4 was “Firefly Lane,” debuting Feb. 3. It follows Tully and Kate, who meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. At No. 5 was “Tribes of Europa,” hitting screens Feb. 19. Set in 2070, it follows three siblings trying to change the fate of Europe after a global catastrophe fractures it into countless micro-states fighting for dominance.

Among other streamers, Apple TV+’s “For All Mankind” came in at No. 3 and Amazon’s “The Family Man” at No. 4 on the returning shows chart. Both debut their sophomore seasons in February. The alt-history series “For All Mankind” moves to 1983 in the midst of the Cold War, where tensions between the U.S. and the USSR are at their peak. “The Family Man” is an Indian spy series.

 

Most Anticipated New Shows for February:

  1. “Superman & Lois” (CW) — Feb. 23
  2. “Clarice” (CBS) — Feb. 11
  3. “The Equalizer” (CBS) — Feb. 7
  4. “Firefly Lane” (Netflix) — Feb. 3
  5. “Tribes of Europa” (Netflix) — Feb. 19

 

Most Anticipated Returning Shows for February:

  1. “Workin’ Moms” (CBC) — Feb. 16
  2. “Black Lightning” (CW) — Feb. 8
  3. “For All Mankind” (Apple TV+) — Feb. 19
  4. “The Family Man” (Amazon Prime Video) — Feb. 12
  5. “Harrow” (ABC) — Feb. 7

Netflix Inks Deal With Oscar-Lauded Director Noah Baumbach

Director, writer and producer Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) has inked a deal to exclusively write and direct films for Netflix for the next several years.

Baumbach’s next film is White Noise, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name. Baumbach will produce the new film alongside David Heyman, with whom he also produced Marriage Story. Filming begins later this year.

Baumbach’s first film with Netflix was The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), starring Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Emma Thompson, which premiered at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival. He followed that up with Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern, which garnered six Academy Award nominations, including two for Baumbach, and a win for Dern.

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“When I started in the film industry, I dreamed of having a home,” Baumbach said in a statement. “It took me about 25 years but it was worth the wait. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be making movies with Ted and Scott and everyone at Netflix, who are wonderful collaborators and friends and family.”

“For more than two decades Noah has been writing and directing some of the most personal and influential films in American cinema,” Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief content officer, said in a statement. “When we started to work together almost four years ago, he immediately felt like family and I’m thrilled we’re finally making it official.”

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“Noah tells authentic and universal human stories,” Scott Stuber, global head of Netflix Films, said in a statement. “I’m equally honored and excited to be able to collaborate on a third project with Noah, to have Netflix be a home to more of his projects and continue to have him do what he does best — make really great movies.”

Baumbach’s additional films include Kicking and Screaming, The Squid and the Whale, for which Baumbach received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg, Frances Ha, While We’re Young, Mistress America and the documentary De Palma.

Nielsen Retcon: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Topped ‘Soul’ in Christmas Streaming Minutes

When Nielsen last released its list of Top 10 streamed programs from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu on the television, Pixar Animation’s Soul emerged the winner for the period Dec. 21-27, 2020, with 1.67 billion minutes viewed.

Apparently, that didn’t sit well with WarnerMedia, which had released Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day — the same day Soul premiered on Disney+. While Nielsen doesn’t yet track HBO Max television viewing data, with WW84 the first of Warner Bros. Pictures’ theatrical slate launching concurrently on Max, WarnerMedia convinced Nielsen to take another look. And, voila, the research company now says the Gal Gadot-starring DC Comics superhero sequel tracked 2.3 billion minutes — 35% more than Soul.

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“As was announced on Wednesday during [AT&T’s fiscal] earnings and as this Nielsen data shows, Wonder Woman 1984 was a huge holiday gift to the consumer at a time when they wanted and needed it,” Andy Forssell, EVP and GM of HBO Max, said in a statement. “This partnership with Warner Bros. of course continues throughout the year, but it began with Wonder Woman’s arrival on Christmas Day to great success.”

Nielsen’s weekly reconfigure pushed Netflix’s last week streaming “The Office” into the third spot with 1.43 billion minutes. The streaming behemoth’s original series, “Bridgerton,” dropped to fourth with 1.2 billion minutes streamed.

LG Electronics Touts Record 2020 Sales, Profits

LG Electronics Jan. 29 announced record 2020 revenue of KRW 63.26 trillion ($56.45 billion) and record operating profit of KRW 3.20 trillion ($2.85 billion), an increase of 31.1% over 2019, and driven primarily by higher sales of OLED TVs and home appliances, among other products.

Sales in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31) of KRW 18.78 trillion ($16.76 billion) grew 16.9% from the same period of 2019 and were 11% higher than the previous quarter. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the quarter’s operating profit of KRW 650.20 billion ($580.19 million) increased significantly by 539% compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.

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While COVID-19 and slow economic recovery remain concerns for 2021, LG said it expects the global economy to normalize under the successful implementation of vaccinations.

LG Home Entertainment reported 2020 revenue of KRW 13.18 trillion ($11.76 billion) and operating profit of KRW 969.70 billion ($865.29 million), a 22.9% increase over the previous year. Sales in the quarter of KRW 4.28 trillion ($3.82 billion) were 7.9% higher than the fourth quarter of 2019 and up 16.7% from the previous quarter. Quarterly operating profit of KRW 204.50 billion ($182.48 million) reflected increased sales in North America and Europe.

 

Director Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’ Movie Cut Streaming on HBO Max March 18

HBO Max will stream director Zack Snyder’s highly-anticipated personal cut of 2017 DC Comics superhero movie Justice League beginning March 18, according to WarnerMedia, which announced the release date Jan. 29.

Justice League features a team of well-known DC superheroes: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) inspired by Superman (Henry Cavill) and his ally, Diana Prince (Gadot), to fight a new global threat. The movie, which was finished by Joss Whedon after Snyder dropped out due to his daughter’s reported suicide, generated $657 million at the global box office.

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Cult fans of the franchise contended Whedon’s take on the superhero ensemble was different in tone than Snyder’s original. When speculation of a “Snyder Cut” of the movie emerged, WarnerMedia jumped at the marketing opportunity.

“I just was kind of done with [the movie],” Snyder told CinemaBlend. “I was in this place of [knowing] my family needs me more than this bullshit, and I just need to honor them and do the best I can to heal that world. I had no energy to fight [the studio], and fight for [the movie]. Literally, zero energy for that.”

Dubbed Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the new cut will be rated ‘R’ and run as a four-hour movie. When announced last year Snyder originally said it would be presented in four hourlong installments.

Concurrently with the premiere on Max in the U.S., the movie will be available on HBO services in Europe across the Nordics, Central Europe, Spain, and Portugal as well as on the HBO GO service in Asia. In Latin America, the title will premiere exclusively on HBO Max when the service launches in the region later this year.

Charter Spectrum Added Pay-TV Subs in 2020

In a trend reversal, Charter Communications Jan. 29 announced it added 19,000 residential video customers in 2020, compared with a decline of 484,000 subs in 2019. Residential video customers decreased by 66,000 in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, while fourth-quarter 2019 residential video customers decreased by 105,000.

Charter ended the year with 16.2 million Spectrum video subs, up from 16.14 million subs in 2019.

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Charter CEO Tom Rutledge

Similarly to other pay-TV operators, Charter is a major high-speed Internet provider, the lifeline to delivering burgeoning over-the-top video consumption in subscriber homes. The company said it ended 2020 with 28.9 million residential and business Internet subscribers, with 2.2 million subs added in 2020 versus 1.4 million added in 2019. Charter added 246,000 broadband subs in the fourth quarter compared to 339,000 during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Our 2020 performance demonstrates that our customer-friendly operating strategy works well for Charter communities, employees and shareholders, even in challenging economic and operating
environments,” CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.

Charter in 2015 was one of the first providers to offer broadband-only subscribers an online TV platform — Spectrum TV Plus — that afforded users access to premium channels for $20 monthly and a free Roku player.

Warner Bros. Animation Announces Four New DC Comics Short Films

Warner Bros. has announced that the next four DC Showcase animated short films for release by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2021 and 2022 will focus on DC Comics characters Kamandi, The Losers, Blue Beetle and Constantine.

Warner Bros. Animation has been producing DC Showcase shorts for home video release since 2010, with previous entries focused on characters such as Catwoman, Shazam, Green Arrow, Adam Strange, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, Sgt. Rock, The Phantom Stranger and Death. The series also includes last year’s interactive Batman: Death in the Family.

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The first of the new shorts will be Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!, a post-apocalyptic thriller to be attached as a bonus feature to Justice Society: World War II in Spring 2021.

The Losers and Blue Beetle shorts will also be released as extras on future DC Universe animated movies, while the Constantine short will serve as the anchor for a compilation set to be distributed in 2022.

‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers’ to Premiere on Disney+ March 26

The new original series “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” will premiere on the Disney+ streaming service March 26.

The 10-episode follow-up to the “Mighty Ducks” movies of the 1990s is set in present-day Minnesota and finds the Ducks have evolved from scrappy underdogs to an ultra-competitive, powerhouse youth hockey team. After 12-year-old Evan Morrow (Brady Noon) is unceremoniously cut from the Ducks, he and his mom, Alex (Lauren Graham), set out to build their own team of misfits to challenge the cutthroat, win-at-all-costs culture of youth sports today. With the help of former Ducks coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez, reprising his role from the films), they rediscover the joys of playing just for love of the game.

The cast also includes up-and-coming young actors such as Maxwell Simkins, Swayam Bhatia, Luke Islam, Kiefer O’Reilly, Taegen Burns, Bella Higginbotham and DJ Watts.

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“The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” is produced by ABC Signature, a part of Disney Television Studios. Steve Brill, the original creator, writer and executive producer of all three films returns as co-creator and executive producer of the new series. Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (“The King of Queens,” “13 Going On 30”) also are co-creators and will serve as executive producers and showrunners.