THE CLEANSING (2019) Reviews and overview

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The Cleansing is a 2019 British fantasy horror feature film co-produced and directed by Antony Smith from a screenplay by co-producer David Shillitoe. The Forkbeard Films production stars Luke Bailey, Simon Pengelly, Rhys Meredith and Rebecca Acock.


In a small isolated village in 14th century Wales, Alice is a sixteen-year-old girl who is accused of being a witch and causing the plague that has ravaged the village, taking the lives of many, including Alice’s own father.

When it is revealed that Alice has been hiding her mother’s infection, she is forced to watch The Cleanser, an ominous masked figure, brutally dispatches her mother. The town preacher and de-facto leader Tom has eyes for Alice and subjects her to five torturous trials after she spurns his advances.

Escaping the night before her execution, with the help of her mother’s friend Mary, she flees into the forest and discovers the secluded hut of a mysterious healer, with his own troubled past and demons to face. He nurses her back to health and teaches her how to exact revenge upon those that persecuted her…


“Smith aims for and achieves a slow burn, folky vibe with his third feature; there’s not much going on but he convinces with his leafy setup. As the largely silent heroine of the story Rebecca Acock is serviceable as Alice, but she doesn’t get much to do except suffer and look annoyed until the last reel…” Dark Eyes of London

“There was a feeling of joylessness throughout. The world here is a bleak place so this makes sense, but the film as a whole felt a bit bland at times. I wouldn’t say I was ever bored, but at the same time sometimes it felt like the various components didn’t really fit together that well.” The Rotting Zombie

Cast and characters:

  • Luke Bailey … The Wanderer
  • Simon Pengelly … James
  • Rhys Meredith … Tom
  • Rebecca Acock … Alice (as Rebecca Aycock)
  • Sarah-Louise Tyler … Matilda
  • Simon Nehan … The Cleanser
  • Richard Burman … Matthew
  • Christopher Vowles … Geoffrey
  • Richard Tunley … Huw

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