Sitges Film Festival 2019 – Day 9: The supernatural takes possession in “The Cleansing Hour” and “Color Out of Space”

Sitges Film Festival 2019 - Day 9: The supernatural takes possession in “The Cleansing Hour” and “Color Out of Space”
Madeleine Arthur in Color Out of Space (2019)

In the second-to-last day of the festival, we center in two different characters that are two of the most popular sources of filming material in horror movies, one being a fictional character and another one being real. We are talking about The Devil and H. P. Lovecraft.

Damien LeVeck attended to the festival to present his debut feature film as a solo director, after being part of the horror anthology Dark, Deadly & Dreadful (2018). The Cleansing Hour (2019) is the long version of his awarded short film of the same name centering a phony exorcist and his crew of internet filmmakers who will have to face for once the true evil when their staged possession becomes real. A new twist on the exorcism films that although it has many of the ingredients of this subgenre of horror movies it manages to keep freshness and the interest for an audience craving to be surprised. Predictable but dynamic, with the flavor of low-cost cinema but with a very delicate execution, The Cleansing Hour (2019) is the perfect kind of movie to be part of a film festival like Sitges. The director attended with part of his cast and crew to the screening and they seemed to be more than thrilled to be part of such an event. Affable and holly, Damien LeVeck stayed in the theater surroundings after the movie was over for relaxing chatting with the audience, the true film festival spirit that makes this such a special event.

After Mandy (2018) being one of the most celebrated titles of Sitges Film Festival last year, Color Out of Space (2019) was one of the most awaited titles in this edition. Sharing the same producers, aesthetic style, and star, the ubiquitous Nicolas Cage, by the books Color Out of Space (2019) seemed to be one of those movies that couldn’t miss. But it did. Mostly, the matching facts with Mandy (2018) end with the mentioned, because it lacks the audiovisual strength the first inbred. Based on a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, it was exciting to see what a cult filmmaker like Richard Stanley, director of Hardware (1990) and writer of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), would have achieved. And, although not regrettable, the movie doesn’t satisfy as it was supposed to. The hallucinogen neon-pink alien invasion is a horror and science-fiction rollercoaster that tries to walk by the side of a masterpiece like John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) but, obviously, doesn’t have the craft. Still, we get to see Nicolas Cage having lots of fun in front of the camera, totally absorbed by his own histrionic character that he has been developing along the last decades, and bringing juicy doses of his impossible grimaces. Acceptable as a divertimento, but too poor to be called one of the best movies of the year.

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