How this film was made may actually be more interesting than the film itself. Armed with absolutely no professional equipment, director Douglas Reese linked up with two non-professional actors to create a “no budget” film and that’s exactly what he made. Combining a documentary aesthetic with an unconventional narrative, Reese constructs a feature film where others would have settled for an experimental short.
The film’s two protagonists, played by Jeremiah Hall and Denelle Kjellman, only have a few hobbies. They spend the entire sixty-nine minutes ingesting pills, cleaning their house (which never ends up looking that clean) and fooling around in the living room. Unsurprisingly, their roommate isn’t their biggest fan. And after the third time you watch them change out the Swiffer Sweeper, the fourth time they snort drugs, and what seems like the millionth time they stick their tongues in each other’s mouths, chances are, you won’t be their biggest fans either. And if you make it to the scene where the female protagonist describes her fantasy of “get[ting] raped by a n****r,” fight the urge to turn off the film. You wouldn’t want to miss the scene where she stabs a cardboard box to death.
Obviously, a film doesn’t have to feature likable protagonists (or non-grating sound, for that matter) to tell a story. There is a story to be found in Cleaners. And there’s an audience for hard-to-watch films. Unfortunately, the film’s use of copyrighted music (so much Linkin Park) has kept the Cleaners out of film festivals but it’s available online and it has the potential to build a following. Who knows what will happen to this film but if watching a feature film that’s entirely shot on a camcorder is on your bucket list then this could be the project for you.
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