This movie will play on:
All screenings will take place at
COLLEGE OF THE DESERT | POLLOCK THEATER
43500 Monterey Ave, Palm Desert, CA
A lonely Pranic healer – a form of energy healing – continues to push her body and her spiritual health to the brink when she is confronted with an especially horrific and spiritually-trying healing session.
M.Burger is a Writer/Director/Producer/Storyteller/Basic, White Latina based in Austin, TX. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in International Relations. Magdalene’s first, short doc, Pregnancy Party, premiered at Transform Film Festival, Texas’s first all-women film festival and her collection of short stories, You’ll Never Believe How These Kids Get Murdered: and other clickbait tales, is now available for purchase on Amazon. The last film she produced, Sweet Sweet Kink: a collection of BDSM stories, (Dir. Maggie Bailey) a collection of doc, animated shorts premiered at SXSW in the Texas Shorts collection and has been screened at nationally-acclaimed festivals such as Frameline43, Deadcenter Film Festival, Cinekink, Indie Grits and more.
Growing up in a Mexican-American family in San Antonio, Texas meant that superstition was taken as fact. And it wasn’t just my family, it was the whole city. My friends and I went to Donkey Lady Bridge as teenagers fully expecting to see a ghost once we followed the ritual of honking three times and running around the car. So, it’s no wonder that I easily fell into magical realism as my writing style.
My short film, Cleanse, is directly inspired by the integration of these two worlds in magical realism fiction: the physical (including science and Western medicine) and the metaphysical (including exorcism, spiritualism, energy healing, and more).
Cleanse is an experimental horror film that explores the themes of trauma, exorcism, & abuse. It was very important to me for this film to write characters that looked and sounded like me and my friends. I struggled when I was a teenager watching some of my favorite horror films like The Fly and The Exorcist because I never saw characters who were dealing with the same things I was dealing with (coming out, being a woman, recovering from sexual assault, etc.). It was important to me to create Latinx and queer characters that felt real and just existed in the world with plot arcs that didn’t just revolve around their identities. Ashley (Katy Atkinson), Jessica (Lauren Lox), and Dana (Samone Murray) are the product of many years of brainstorming about what my identities meant to me.
The arc of the film follows the trauma that she experiences during this session. I’ve always found that the dramatic, horrific films that I didn’t want to watch twice were some of the most influential to my style as a filmmaker. These intense, traumatic dramas are now some of my favorite films and big inspirations for the tone for Cleanse (like 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days and Biutiful). In them, the hero does not always win, and similarly, Dana is forced to confront her failed healings at the end of the movie and she fails in her attempt to heal Ashley. We fear and pity Dana and her life. I think the attack upon this already downtrodden character is what makes this film truly horrific.
For Cleanse, the team also prioritized the physicalness of live special effects. The intestines added a layer of realness to the film and helped with the actor’s reactions to the horror. As a Cronenberg, old school practical effects fan, I happily took this opportunity to create 90-feet of interactive, bloody intestines. Overall, the team is very proud of this film and excited to show it on the big screen. Thank you for your time and enjoy the film!