Currently streaming on Shudder, The Cleansing Hour is centered around an online exorcist (Ryan Guzman) who gets more than he bargained for when he comes face to face with a real demon during one of his sham exorcism shows. Caught in the middle is Lane (played by Alix Angelis), an aspiring actress who ends up being an unwilling host to the malevolent force, and the clock is ticking to save her soul and banish the demonic force from her body forever before it’s too late.
Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with Angelis about her experiences working on The Cleansing Hour, and she discussed collaborating with the film’ director, Damien LeVeck, as well as the physical challenges that came with taking on the role of a woman possessed by pure evil. Angelis also chatted about all the special effects she had to contend with and what she took away from working on The Cleansing Hour.
Great to speak with you today, Alix. What was the initial appeal for coming into this project? Was it the script? Was it working with Damien? Was it the opportunity to do all this physical acting as well? Or was it an amalgamation of all of these things?
Alix Angelis: Yeah, it was all those things. When I read the description synopsis, I thought to myself, “Well, this could go a lot of different ways.” Admittedly, my expectations were kind of low because there are a lot of movies out there that explore these same ideas, but they can be hard to pull off. When I read this script, though, I really went on the ride. I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed reading the script, and it felt like it had the potential to be awesome. I also watched the short version, which Damien did as a proof of concept, which was also a fantastic tool for me. It gave me a lot of faith.
Also, because Damien is an editor, that was his main gig before this film, and that gave me a lot of faith as well, because when you have such complex stunts and things like that, as a director, you have to know how to get precisely what you need. He was very efficient as a director, and no time was wasted on that set. But it's an actor's dream to be able to play the lovely ingénue and become the monster, too, and then go back and forth between the two. It was a lot of fun to do.
What's really interesting about your physical performance in the film is that for most of it, you're in this chair. And there's a deliberate way that you have to move and get across the performance while being so limited in your movements. Can you talk about breaking down that process with Damien?
Alix Angelis: We did talk a lot about the physicality and about posture between the two characters I play. So when I was myself, my posture was very upright and confident.
And then, in contrast, when it came to the demon, it wasn't so much about embodying what the devil would be like in his full form, just more like he’s taking up space in my skin. So it was very uncomfortable. Damien talked about this image of a gnarled tree growing into the extremities of my body, which is something that sounds painful and super uncomfortable, as if there's too much to fill the space inside my body. Those were the main things we focused on.
You also get to get really messy here, and I know you guys were working with Studio ADI and those guys are absolute pros and sweethearts. But how much fun was it to do all the effects stuff? Was there a kind of freedom that came with that process?
Alix Angelis: There were pros and cons, because it was, of course, very sticky work. There is a freedom in just being ugly. As a woman, and as an actress in Hollywood, there's always this pressure to be perfect looking and young and beautiful. With this role, all of that was totally out the window, so there wasn't any anxiety around this role about any of that stuff because I looked horrifying. But the team from ADI was awesome. Adam Doherty was there with us in Romania and he's just so talented. He designed my face pieces and all the practical effects, and he just applied it in such a calm, sweet way. He actually got a tattoo of The Cleansing Hour while we were there because he was so into it.
Looking at your experiences working on The Cleansing Hour, what was your biggest takeaway from working on this film?
Alix Angelis: In terms of what I got out of it, the relationships with the people that I worked with are super important to me, and especially the faith that Damien had in me, too. The way that I came on board was pretty typical. I sent in a tape and he will tell you that he saw thousands of auditions, which is nuts. But he just really liked my performance. He's told me that there were people that were the better choice for casting, in terms of the production value or the fact that they had a draw to them, but he thought that I had a great understanding of this character and had something that he really liked. So, it was refreshing to be invited on board on those terms. I feel extremely lucky and for Damien to just have his faith in me, it buoyed me. And that also just gave me the confidence to go for it with my performance.