The Cleanse follows a heartbroken man, Paul (Johnny Malecki), who joins a secretive and exclusive cleansing program that promises ceaseless joy as a result of its mysterious methods. When the juicing portion of the cleanse brings about a creature manifested from his toxins, Paul must find out what it is, why it's here, and what to do with it.
The Cleanse Review
This horror dramedy is more dramedy than horror despite a plot that promises some creature feature shenanigans. Unfortunately, the creatures are a means to an end; a key plot point, but a vehicle for symbolism to the point that what they represent quickly and consistently becomes more important than the creatures themselves.
Of course, this is all to my disappointment, at least to the 15-year old me that tried to catch The Thing on TV whenever I could. I want to see the practical effects creatures bring some carnage, even if it's at the expense of a little plot sensibility. But, then the objective adult in me realizes that the point of the film is not only successfully achieved through the creatures, but makes them understandably secondary to the point.
Galecki carries his awkward timidity from Big Bang Theory to his role here, not showing a breadth of range, but delivers in his own comedic way what you'd expect. His character's depth is best expressed and conveyed through his interactions with his creature and a fellow patient, Maggie (Anna Friel). In fact, the paramount concept is ultimately encompassed through the two's developing relationship. It makes for an ending that is profoundly and emotionally climactic, but with little suspense or visceral tension to speak of.
The whole thing plays like a version of The Lobster, but is far more tolerable and easier to swallow for general audiences. The mild treatments throughout also open it up to a wider array of individuals, but I don't find that it fully satisfies any particular fan of one genre.
I can't help but appreciate the finished product, but still find myself slightly disappointed by the lack of atmosphere felt, either comedic or tense. I wish it would have more openly picked an avenue so that I could choose between laughing or sitting on the edge of my seat. Instead I'm awkwardly smiling throughout because the subtlety dilutes the plot's momentum.
The end result is something I would recommend to most horror fans with an open mind and appreciation for the entire spectrum of what horror has to offer. It's lighthearted, but has a depth and legitimacy to it that makes it entertaining and prevalent to everyone's life.
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 7/10