Stemming from a story by Eric R. Brodeur comes Ty Leisher’s feature-length directorial debut, 11th Hour Cleaning. Co-written by Leisher and co-star Ed Morrone, the film follows the clean-up in the aftermath of a horrific murder. The story begins with the killing of a family, as the patriarch swears he did not commit any of the heinous crimes that transpired and promptly shoots himself.
After the cops arrive, they call in 11th Hour Cleaning owner Dylan (Edward Finlay) to get him and his crew there as soon as possible. He gathers his wife Rachel (Anita Leeman Torres), ex-convict brother-in-law Marcus (Ed Morrone), and Hannah (Chloe Brooks) to help out. But there’s a big snag, as Hannah and Marcus used to be an item, and she still is pissed about whatever he did to land himself in the slammer.
Still, they agree to keep things as professional as possible and get to cleaning. As the group scrubs down the walls, they notice odd markings and eventually discover the video the man made before dying. It isn’t long before Dylan, Rachel, Marcus, and Hannah discover that a Nordic demon is keeping them trapped in the house, using their regrets and fears against them. Can the foursome escape, or are they trapped forever?
11th Hour Cleaning is a somewhat standard haunted house movie from a narrative standpoint. Something draws the group to a house, supernatural things happen, and said people futilely try to escape. But Leisher and Marcus offer an interesting, underrepresented presence in the form of the Nordic demon and firmly established its rules.
“…a Nordic demon is keeping them trapped in the house…”
They’ve also written some very engaging characters whose personal drama comes to a head as they fight for their lives. Dylan really wants kids, though Rachel is not certain it is the right time. Marcus yearns for a fresh start, while Hannah only wants to forget what happened and, more importantly, why. Their interpersonal dynamic wins over audiences, as all watching want these people to survive and apply their learned lessons to their lives.
As far as scares are concerned, 11th Hour Cleaning is more spooky than frightening. A wonderful foreboding atmosphere starts up once they arrive at the house. But, the nerve-jangling, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat suspense that the best horror films deliver is absent. Still, an eerie pall is something other genre offerings can’t even muster (looking at you, Possession Diaries), so that is nothing to sneeze at.
The actors do quite well, delivering believable performances that sell the horror and drama well. At first, Finlay comes across as a dick as Dylan, but as more layers of the character are revealed, audiences realize he’s hurting and feeling betrayed. Morrone makes Marcus most empathetic, while Brooks turns what could have been an annoying character into someone sympathetic. Torres all but steals the show in a brief exchange with Finlay about a particular decision Rachel made earlier.
11th Hour Cleaning boasts strong performances and solid characterizations. These elements keep viewers engaged even though the end product never becomes all that scary. As a debut movie, it is a strong, if imperfect, start.
For more information about 11th Hour Cleaning, visit the Exit 44 Entertainment website.
"…boasts strong performances and solid characterizations."