The Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki leads The Cleanse, a delightfully strange oddball comedy, sci-fi, drama. Galecki plays Paul, a sad young man who has been stuck ever since his bride-to-be left him. After being let go from his job he finds himself drifting aimlessly through life. All that changes though after he watches a late night infomercial advertising a retreat that guarantees to make you feel ‘you’ again. Intrigued, he applies for the very selective programme and is picked along with three others – Maggie (Anna Friel), Eric (Kyle Gallner) and Laurie (Diana Bang), for the specialist treatment.
The retreat is overseen by a wonderfully exuberant past guest played by Anjelica Huston. The treatment -a full body cleanse – involves each guest drinking four drinks designed exclusively the for them. Drinking the juices however, has a very interesting side effect and has participants come face to face with their demons.
It’s been a long time since we’ve encountered a story as original and off-the-wall nuts as this one. The weirdest thing though is that if this treatment did exist it would make perfect sense. We’d all like to flush out the bad parts of us, no one likes being burdened with their anxieties and fears.
Galecki makes a great lead, although Paul doesn’t really seem that far removed from his Big Bang Theory counterpart Leonard. He and Friel have a nice chemistry, their relationship very innocent and timid. There’s also great support from Huston, Oliver Platt (who plays the creator of the retreat) and especially Gallner. Eric definitely has one of the darkest stories as he forgets to follow some of the rules and tragedy ensues.
Part of the process also involves some bizarre looking creatures, be prepared to fall in love with them. They might not look that typically cute upon first sight but you’ll grow to love them. These guys also have a very interesting way of communicating, Gizmo better watch his back.
The Cleanse is an intriguing mixture of David Cronenberg, Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg. We have Existenz–like body horror and Gremlins–type creatures with an early Spielberg tone. A film which is somehow endearing and calming, as well as dark and dangerous. A light-hearted and whimsical charm that has a surprisingly amount and tension and wariness hidden beneath.
Genuinely one of the craziest stories we’ve watched in a long time. A dazzling original concept that you will not soon forget, The Cleanse will become an instant cult sensation.
The Cleanse is available on Netflix now.
This review first appeared on THN where it was reviewed as The Master Cleanse.