THE CLEANSING ** UK 2019 Dir: Antony Smith 94 mins
Set in 14th century Wales a plague is sweeping through a small village as a young girl is accused of witchcraft. The girls father was taken by it and now her mother has fallen ill yet she remains unaffected. When the village priest discovers that Alice is hiding her mother’s illness he orders the mother to be killed in front of her. With all of her family gone, the priest, Tom, pressures the vulnerable Alice to stay with him and when she shuns his advances he accuses her of bewitching the village and subjects her to a series of tests that according to him will reveal that she is a witch. Alice manages to escape before she is executed and takes refuge in the woods with a recluse who is trying to find a cure for the plague and helps Alice discover who she is and how to exact her revenge on the people that hurt her.
The way this is shot captures the squalor of the period very well and it all looks very authentic plus the Welsh accents from the whole cast is a bonus too. Reading the synopsis on IMDB prior to watching this actually helped quite a lot with this one. It is detailed in its written description which helps you to follow the first part of the movie which is a little more muddled. It is pretty light on dialogue to start with, especially from Alice, you end up playing a bit of a guessing game at times but this does improve as it progresses. The final twist was pretty well revealed and the soundtrack was haunting which created a great atmosphere. The acting was bearable but not amazing although Rhys Meredith as Tom was a stand out. Rebecca Acock as Alice doesn’t really say much at first and does have a bit of a spoilt brat air about her but as her character develops it becomes less noticeable and she is quite badass at the end. The FX are okay, there isn’t a great deal to speak of and only a small amount of blood but what we do get is effective. It is not something I will be watching again any time soon as it wasn’t great but then again it wasn’t that terrible either.
Review by Sarah Budd