The Cleanse

Paul (Johnny Galecki) lost his love, his job and needs to repair his very broken existence. In the middle of one night, he wakes to a TV infomercial promising a free program that will change him forever – in a good and positive way – with “The Cleanse.”

Laura's Review: C+

Paul Berger (Johnny Galecki) is in a serious rut, so he takes notice when he hears of The Roberts Institute's free cleansing retreat to rid himself of toxins. As he angles for a coveted spot, he also takes notice of Maggie (Anna Friel), an aloof attendee. He's thrilled to be chosen, and even happier when he spies Maggie sitting on the steps of one of the wood cabins comprising Roberts' camp. This amusing little fantasy horror hybrid from writer/director Bobby Miller features a game cast made up of Hollywood heavyweights (Anjelica Huston's enthusiastic camp councilor Lily), character actors (Oliver Platt's subdued Roberts, Kevin J. O'Connor's gonzo Fredericks) and television stars who mesh surprisingly well. Miller's hyper realistic style and skewed POV shots are paired with low tech animatronic beasties, the cleanse's adorable expectorations which grow up to be...something quite different, and the overall effect is gently amusing and offbeat. The story is an allegory, but despite an intriguing build, the movie implodes when it should be exploding. Still, Miller shows promise and "The Cleanse" is a diverting oddity. Grade:

Robin's Review: C+

Tyro feature film helmer and scribe Bobby Miller creates, in essence, a student horror film with a budget and includes some pretty nifty critter F/X. It also helps that some veteran actors lend a hand to this story-with-a-message story. Do not expect me to tell you the message; that is for you to interpret and decide for yourself. Johnny Galecki has had a long career playing a sad sack character full of insecurities. His stammering reticence is his trademark and he repeats it here as Paul, a man searching for happiness even though he does not know what happiness is. He grasps at straws of redemption and volunteers for the experimental body cleansing program designed by its inventor, Ken Roberts (Oliver Platt), and administered by his faithful assistant, Liz (Anjelica Huston). Paul is joined by the other selectees for the experiment at the remote (very remote) camp. Maggie (Anna Friel) is an actress with a secret reason for being there. Eric (Kyle Gallner) is there only because his girlfriend, Laurie (Diana Bang), wants to be there, Once gathered together, Liz distributes four containers of “anti-toxins” that each must drink all of by the end of the day. Dutifully, they all drink down the first of the horrible-tasting elixirs. Then, we wait for results. The story, by Miller, is amusing in its metaphor (or, allegory?) about our modern lifestyles and pursuit of happiness. We all have invisible life demons and “The Cleanse” pokes fun at them in a tangible way. It is more clever than poignant and plods a bit during its short (81 minute) run time.