Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis, Tom Yi, Tisha French, Chris Mulkey, Dana Bunch, Peter Gvozdas, John Weselcouch, Alicia Vela-Bailey
Synopsis: A family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong disturbing violence and some language
Perhaps one of the more interesting horror thriller films ever made, but it's also one of the more disappointing ones out there....
Out of all the horror movies that I've ever seen, "The Purge" is arguably one of the more interesting ones out there. Unlike most horror films that feature some sort of monster and/or serial killer, this one features a strong social commentary about our own society.
It's premise is that, in the year 2022, all crime is legal one day a year. Meaning for one twelve hour period each year, people are allowed to do whatever their hearts desire. Therefore, if a person wanted to rape, kill, and/or possibly rob someone, then it's all legal for that one night each year. Sounds crazy you say? What politician in right mind would approve this to be legal?
Well, according to the storyline, crime got worse during the early part of the 21st century because of how badly the economy was getting. More people were losing their jobs, and the one percent of our population kept getting richer. Needless to say, something drastic needed to be done, so the government felt that if they allowed one day a year for people to let out their stress, then crime would go down. As luck would have it, this tactic surprisingly worked for the U.S. in this fictional future.
Crime is now at an all time low, as people are allowed to do whatever their hearts desire one day a year; which has become sort of an annual event simply known as "The Purge." Granted, this doesn't hurt the one percent class that's able to afford the best security system for their homes that money can buy, but it does mean that the rest of us are proverbially screwed fending for our lives one night a year, in this future.
Having said that, this does lead to a decrease in the unemployment rate, keeps the population down, and society seems to flourish, since the Purge was legalized. Obviously, there are some rules to this purge, as it's explained via newscast, in the film itself. For starters, politicians are exempt from the purge, so you wouldn't be able to legally kill the president of the U.S. if you wanted to, for example. However, you could legally kill anyone else, as long as they're not some important government official. Plus, you wouldn't be allowed to use any class 4 weapons during the purge, as that's still illegal. Therefore, you wouldn't be allowed to construct a bomb or anything like that to blow someone up, but you can always blow their heads off with a shotgun if you wanted to. Although, I doubt seriously any politician would want to legalize something like this, but for the sake of argument, lets just pretend that this future could happen someday.
And if it did happen, then what gives the one percent the right to survive this night of horror while the rest of us are screwed to fend for ourselves? What gives them the right to choose who lives and who dies? Or for that matter, why should anyone have to die for society to flourish? Is it a necessary evil? Are human beings violent by nature to where the purge liberates us psychologically? Do we need to kill others to purge our desires, so we can function in society normally? And why should murdering anyone be okay in order to purge our own souls? Needless to say, these are the types of questions that "The Purge" offers to it's audience to think about.
Unfortunately, the film falls tragically short on execution. Like the "Twilight" series, this film had a great premise to work with, but it fails to live up to it's potential in many ways. In what should've been arguably one of the greatest psychological horror films ever made, while highlighting the darkness of humanity, this film succumbs to various cliches of it's genre that it becomes nothing more than a stereotypical "home invasion" slasher flick by the end of the second act.
Don't get me wrong, Ethan Hawke tries his best to give this film credibility, and James DeMonaco seems to have a lot of great ideas. Unfortunately, as great as the premise happens to be, it still has those various horror movie cliches that cause the story to become tragically predictable. Not to mention downright silly and laughable at times.
Of course, it doesn't help that some of the characters come off as stereotypes in this film, or they're simply forgettable. You have the typical dumb teenage girl, who's only purpose is to nearly get herself killed, so the audience can yell at the screen at how stupid her actions were. You have the mother that doesn't make any kind of impact on the movie at all. Plus, the son is downright naive, and annoying at times. Granted, I know the character is supposed to be that way, and if it wasn't for his actions, then we wouldn't have much of a film to begin with. Sadly though, his actions do cause him to suffer a terrible loss that I won't spoil for my readers.
However, it would've been nice to see some level of internal conflict from the boy. After all, none of it would've happened theoretically if it had not been for his actions. As I mentioned earlier, this film is definitely one of the more interesting horror films that I've ever seen, but it could've been so much more.
Anyway, I will give James DeMonaco credit for how well he directed this film, as he did manage to create a very suspenseful flick. Granted, it's predictable as hell, but it's still entertaining to watch nonetheless. The cinematography is well executed, and the film moves at a fairly decent pace as well.
Overall, I would say "The Purge" is an interesting film to watch, and if you're into horror movies, then I would definitely recommend checking it out once it comes out on DVD/Blue-Ray because this film isn't worth seeing in theaters. It has a great premise to work with, but in the end, it's really nothing more than your run of the mill "home invasion" slasher flick that I'm sure many readers have seen before. In the end, I'd have to give it a two and a half out of four.
Ethan Hawke talks America's fascination with violence | The Purge
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