In the near future, the United States has become a utopia; unemployment rates are at 1% and crime is at an all-time low. The only reason things are like this is because the U.S. government has enacted a program called “The Purge.” For one night out of the year, over a 12-hour period, all criminal activity, including rape and murder, is legal. Emergency services are suspended. Hospitals are closed. Nothing is against the law. The Purge acts as a catharsis for the American people, a chance to release the pent-up rage they keep inside of them. This ritual helps keep crime rates at a low level for the rest of the year.
The movie centers around a single wealthy family whose home has been fortified to protect them from outsiders during one of these purges. The family, whose two children debate the morality of the purge and the views of their parents, begins the yearly routine of barricading their home before “The Purge” begins. During this hectic period, the son of the family lets a man screaming for help into their home. Now they must protect themselves from masked homicidal psychopaths hunting the man who took refuge in their home.
Initially before the release of The Purge
, I wasn’t too sure about seeing it. Most horror movies aren’t really my thing; While I don’t mind the gore and violence of an action flick, films that generally classify as horror movies don’t really do it for me-I guess I’m weird like that. But after having a chance to see writer and director James DeMonaco
‘s second stab at the director’s chair, I wasn’t turned off in the least.
The story begins in the year 2022, where America’s crime and joblessness are at an all-time low, all thanks to the annual ‘Purge’, a government sanctioned event where for twelve hours in one night, crime is virtually legal. Ethan Hawke stars as James Sandin, a wealthy and married father of two and a rich home security salesman whose son, Charlie (Max Burkholder) rescues a homeless man being hunted while the Purge is happening. Soon enough, the entire family is swept into a whirlwind of intense chaos and fear when they find out the homeless man in-hiding is the target of a small group of upperclass psychotic killers whose ultimatum will force James and his family to choose between leaving a man to die for their own self-preservation, and fighting back.
I have to say, I’ve grown pretty fond of these kinds of films, where much like Adam Wingard’s You’re Next
, The Purge
blends a little bit of several genres while maintaining its intensity as a truly dark, gritty and wonderfully entertaining film. The Sandin family has its fair share of imperfections, to say the least, with a voyeur for a son who operates a pretty disturbing-looking RC spycam, and a naive young daughter (Adalaide Kane
) in love with a shady, much older boy. Moreover, with the Purge underway, we see James and wife, Mary (Lena Headey
), and the overriding cognitive dissonance that occurs when dealing with toxicity of their predicament at the behest of Polite Leader (Rhys Wakefield
) and his party of Purge participants.
Unlike what I initially expected, The Purge doesn’t deal specifically with slasher-style killings as it operates very much like a horror-tinged, suspenseful action thriller, which should satify your appetite if action films are your thing. By the third act, there is plenty of intensity and action to go around. The battles are exciting and the kills are gruesome with actor Hawke and actress Headey holding their own much to our delight, with Headey, a personal favorite of mine since her former TV lead role in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, leaving one hell of an impression near the film’s end.
The film didn’t get a lot of great reviews from what I understand, and in large part, to put it simply, aside from its runaway hit status, I’m happy to disagree. And I’m even happier that DeMonaco
is taking his vision of a nation purported by a newfound dogma of “self-cleansing” to the next level with a sequel
The Purge is now available for home viewing wherever films are sold. The film’s sequel, The Purge: Anarchy is due out in theaters on June 20, 2014.
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