Damien LeVeck interview- The Cleansing Hour

We were fortunate enough to speak with the director of the excellent horror film The Cleansing Hour which is currently streaming now on Shudder.

AJ:
Hey, Damien. How are you doing tonight?

Damien LeVeck:
I’m… How are you?

AJ:
I’m doing good. How long have you been involved with The Cleansing Hour?

Damien LeVeck:
Oh, about four and a half years.

AJ:
What would you say was the most difficult part of bringing The Cleansing Hour to its final stages of becoming a feature film?

Damien LeVeck:
The most difficult part was definitely raising the money.

AJ:
How was casting like? Because you have Ryan Guzman, who is just fantastic in this, and Kyle Gallner, again, who is just amazing. It’s amazing to watch their chemistry in this. How was it just watching the whole cast on this? Because everybody brought their A game on this. I can’t imagine how it was behind the camera watching it all unfold in front of you.

Damien LeVeck:
Sure. Yeah, the casting process was challenging, just finding the right people. But once we got Kyle, Alex, and Ryan together, it was a real joy working with them. A, because they’re just naturally wonderful people and just such joys to be around, but B, because they are so talented. And you’re right, they did bring their A game. In so many ways, they made my job easier. We were able to really make the movie because of them, just because of their work ethic and their personalities and how talented they are. It all just sort of went together and allowed us to make the best movie possible.

AJ:
Right. In this new day and age where we’re kind of on the teetering of streaming becoming the golden age of its time and where platforms like Shudder will give you a much more wider audience with an independent horror movie like The Cleansing Hour because you know you just got one million subscribers on Shudder recently, how does it feel knowing that The Cleansing Hour is on a platform? And why it’s Shudder as well as… Soon, it will be out on DVD, digital, and whatever. How does it feel to have Shudder be behind The Cleansing Hour as well?

Damien LeVeck:
Well, I mean it’s a dream come true really, because Shudder, I think, is maybe the best home for Cleansing Hour. Shudder being a platform for genre films and genre fans, The Cleansing Hour is a movie that I made for genre fans. It’s a movie that is tailored to that audience and to that genre because of my love for it. It’s gotten really great critical acclaim, I think, due in no small part to the fact that Shudder’s subscribers are the fan base of horror films, and they love it. They appreciate good horror films. Being able to see my movie out there, of course, it’s a dream come true. I think any filmmaker would want that as well. I feel extremely blessed.

Damien LeVeck:
We finished the movie in 2019 and Shudder saved the release until their 60 days of Halloween. It just goes to show you that you just don’t always know what’s going to happen. You just never know what the silver lining of something might be. Here I am, I had this finished movie. It was like, “I can’t wait for it to get out there so people can see it,” and then COVID hits. and then Shudder subscribers skyrocket and more eyeballs got on the movie than they ever would have if it had been released in my timeline. I’m so grateful for Shudder and their participation with the movie and promotion of it and just the way they have added us. They’ve allowed me to be a part of already a wonderful collection of movies for people to go stream.

AJ:
Speaking of this genre and genre fans, what were some of your favorite genre films growing up?

Damien LeVeck:
I have a lot. I mean, if you’re talking about exorcism movies, I love any of the possession moves from The Exorcist to The Omen or, more recently, The Conjuring, Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, The Last Exorcism. Exorcist 2 and 3 are both pretty decent. And then I love creature movies too, so this is one of the reasons why I focus so heavily on practical effects as much as I possibly can. Critters and Gremlins and The Thing and Evil Dead and so on and so forth, are all movies that I’m obsessed with because of their practical effects. Hellraiser, all so wonderful, so well done.

AJ:
I’m so glad you brought The Last Exorcism up because I feel that is probably one of the more underrated exorcism films that’s been released, in the 2000s at least. It’s one of the few that gets underneath your skin and it’s all because of the performances in there too.

Damien LeVeck:
Oh, yeah.

AJ:
It’s just amazing to watch each time, and it still holds up.

Damien LeVeck:
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I think it’s a great movie. It is underrated and the performances are terrific.

AJ:
When you were writing the script for The Cleansing Hour, what would you say were the biggest influences for previous exorcism films that you wanted to take a little bit from this one and just drizzle it in with another kind of genre film when you were writing the screenplay for The Cleansing Hour?

Damien LeVeck:
The Exorcist is incredibly influential on me, so I wanted to make sure that I paid tribute to that movie but still did something different. I took a lot of time with helping to design the look of possessed Lane. I wanted to make sure that she looked unique and believable. I didn’t want to go too over the top with her. I wanted to make sure that she had a possession voice that was compelling and didn’t sound cheesy or cheap.

AJ:
Right. It wasn’t a Batman voice or anything.

Damien LeVeck:
Right, exactly. I didn’t want people to hear it and turn up their nose. As far as the social media component is concerned, obviously that makes it a more current film, but I also wanted to… I do love found footage movies, but I also wanted it to have a look and feel that you don’t see in other found footage movies. I didn’t want it to be a movie that takes place on a screen like a Zoom film or something like that. I also didn’t want it to be a found footage movie where people are carrying around cameras and consistently have to justify why they’re recording everything that’s going on. I was able to, I think, create this world that’s unique and execute it in a way that we haven’t seen before, yeah.

AJ:
Well, Damien, thank you so much for joining me tonight. It’s been really fun, and congratulations on the success of The Cleansing Hour.

Damien LeVeck:
I really appreciate that. Thank you for chatting. You can always tell the horror fans they can reach me on social, on Instagram, Telegram, and Twitter, @DamienLeVeck.

AJ:
All right, will do. Have a great night.

Damien LeVeck:
You as well.

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