The Purging Hour Review

Eighty minutes of my life I will never get back

Yet another found-footage movie crashes with a thud. The Purging Hour is one of the more tedious found-footage films ever devised. Marketed as a creepy horror film, the results are seventy minutes of dysfunctional family drama before seeing any serious action. Clearly made on a micro-budget with amateur talent, the best thing going for The Purging Hour is its title. Tepid thrills and boring characters make this film a complete miss on almost every level.

The so-called thriller’s premise is simple. Bruce Diaz (Steve Jacques) moves his family to a serene mountain getaway in California. They disappear for good within a day of arriving at their new home, leaving nothing behind but blood. The police abandon the case as they have no leads and a missing family. Now years later, the family’s personal home footage from the day of their disappearance has anonymously shown up on the “dark web.” This rough camcorder footage fills most of the movie, interspersed with documentary-style interviews with town residents and friends of the family.

Many low-budget directors love found-footage horror films. The purposely cheap ethos fits their budget range. The Purging Hour is one of those movies barely above student filmmaking in scope and direction. Slavishly following found-footage conventions even when they make little sense in the narrative, it drags despite running a mere eighty minutes. If director Emmanuel Sandoval gets one thing right, the actors playing the family actually look like they’re related.

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There are a few subtle character moments lost in the tedious melodrama.

The Diaz family are little more than a collection of mostly uninteresting characters. There is Bruce, the dad. He’s a former baseball player and the enthusiastic booster behind moving his family to the middle of nowhere. His wife Jennifer’s mental health is questioned in the accompanying interviews, casting her as a suspect almost from the beginning. Kacie (Alana Chester) is their teenage daughter about to go off to college. She’s brought her older boyfriend Mark with her on this odd moving trip. The Diaz family’s youngest member on this trip is their son, Manny. Marketed as an intense, creepy movie, there is virtually no violence until the fatal few minutes.

The Diaz family lead dull, uninteresting lives. We are subjected to their petty family squabbles for nearly seventy minutes through rough camcorder footage. There are a few subtle character moments lost in the tedious melodrama. There doesn’t seem to have been any thought behind introducing tension into their story before an incomprehensible final ten minutes. Interviews with friends and relatives are intended to build suspense. They fall completely flat, tossing out any number of dumb scenarios and conspiracies about the town and the family’s disappearance.

The Purging Hour’s payoff is completely lame. Having made us sit through their inane moving experience, the audience will be rooting for the family’s eventual deaths. The Purging Hour is filmmaking not worth seeing. This is a fairly inept movie that puts you to sleep before revealing how empty it really is at its core.

The Purging Hour runs 80 minutes. MVDvisual distributes the movie on DVD and home video.