THE MASTER CLEANSE (FrightFest 2016)

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Imagine Gremlins meets The Master and you just about have The Master Cleanse. Part body horror, part black comedy, this is a well-acted film produced by its star Johnny Galecki. Galecki plays Paul, a lost soul searching for more in life after being stood up at the altar and finding himself stuck in a rut. He sees an advert for a free spiritual retreat, with the tagline ‘let’s get pure’.  

He signs up, seemingly the only person there genuinely seeking help.  He meets Maggie (Friel), an actress lying about her reasons there, but hiding something.  There’s also Eric (Gallner) who’s only there for his girlfriend (Bang), and Fredericks (O’Connor), who’s been there for a while after being unable to ‘terminate’ and end his cleanse. The group is mentored by Lily (an on-form Anjelica Huston), who makes a hilarious, screaming entrance.

The retreat is based on the ‘master cleanse’ from which the film takes its name – a diet of lemon, syrup and pepper juice designed to allegedly cleanse your body of toxins. In the film, the cleanse is the mastermind of Ken Roberts (Platt), a cult leader-like figure who communicates to the group mainly by way of self-help tapes.  The impurities the group purge manifest themselves in a more literal way than anyone imagined, and that’s where the film takes on a more sinister yet comical theme. The film is enjoyable, funny and sad at times. Galecki does more than enough to make you warm to his tragic character, although he is nearly upstaged by a particular ‘character’.

The film could have easily fallen flat, straying into B movie or comedy territory, but it’s a masterful blend of horror, drama and comedy.

THE MASTER CLEANSE / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: BOBBY MILLER / STARRING: JOHNNY GALECKI, ANNA FRIEL, OLIVER PLATT, ANJELICA HUSTON 
 


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