SXSW Film Review: The Master Cleanse
The perils of purification
By Marjorie Baumgarten,
5:30PM, Sat. Mar. 19, 2016
Be careful of all the bad stuff you keep bottled up inside – especially if you undergo a master cleanse like the one in Bobby Miller’s debut feature, which stars The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki. It all comes out in the end, so to speak.
More humorous than gross, The Master Cleanse is a sweetly comedic horror film. Galecki (also one of the film’s executive producers) plays Paul Berger, a nebbishy guy still smarting from having been left at the altar by his fiancée two years before. He’s all in when he comes across an advertisement for the Roberts Institute’s free retreat that promises a master cleanse that will purify his body. The initial meeting is a little odd, and the legal release he has to sign is a bit ominous, but Paul jumps in with both feet, nevertheless.
A terrific supporting cast, including Anna Friel, Anjelica Huston, Oliver Platt, Kyle Gallner, and Kevin J. O’Connor, help enliven the film and tilt the plot toward sly comedy instead of icky scatological yuks. The special effects also help regulate the film’s tone. Instead of slick CGI, The Master Cleanse uses animatronics and puppets that place it closer to Gremlins than Alien on the creature-feature spectrum. Still, I can’t imagine there being a wide audience for this film, although it should appeal to offbeat tastes.