If you like me saw the trailers for the film or ads on television you thought that this looked like it has some potential. An interesting and original idea. The first twenty minutes of The Purge holds up its end of the bargain then everything begins to unravel and devolve. Leaving the cinema you might want to purge this film from your memory. (See what I did there?)
It seems to me that the whole raison d’être of horror/thriller films is to scare the Bejesus out of you. The Purge doesn’t even come close to doing that. Instead of being jumpy and on the edge of my seat I was irritated by the stupidity happening in front of my eyes. I often (almost out loud) was like “WTF” during the thankfully short 85 minutes of the film. The person sitting beside was so bemused that she was laughing to herself through many of the scenes. Ridiculous and absurd is what it all amounts to.
We are in the United States in the year 2022. It is a country in which crime is out of control and jails are overcrowded. As a result of the chaos a regime called New Founding Fathers has taken over control of the U.S. To deal with the out of control violence and crime that is plaguing the entire country the Fathers have created a day each year in which for 12 hours anything goes. You can do anything and not get arrested. They see this as a good way to release some of the negative and hostile feelings that the majority of population feels.
What ends up happening is that people prey on the most vulnerable people such as the poor and homeless. They are easy pickings. As a result of them being “thinned” out the Fathers can say that they are successful in that the unemployment rate is a mere 1 per cent and the economy is doing well.
On this day a group of n’er do wells decide to target the home of the well off security system salesman, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family. James believes his family to be safe as his house is akin to a fortress. He is in for some disappointment.
Dial forward to telegraphed twists, underdeveloped characters, a home invasion with lots of body count, grating music, repeated failures at making some sort of social commentary, and a general lack of imagination.
I don’t have too many expectations for horror/thriller films from this generation of directors, it is the exact opposite actually, but this one even went underneath the already low bar I set. The idea is cool with a film based around 24 hours in which anything goes and there are no repercussions. Chaos ensues in the world that James DeMonaco (Staten Island), who wrote and directed the film, has constructed. Unfortunately for the viewer that chaos bleeds into the picture. The holes in the story are so big I could drive a truck through them. As if that wasn’t enough there are a ton of clichés and poor character development piled on top of that. Bottom line is this pile becomes a stinking pile of …
-Surviving the Night: The Making of the Purge