Tag Archive: The Purge


The idea of a 12-hour Purge where all crime is considered legal is admittedly a ridiculous premise. It’s difficult to imagine any country getting to that level of desperation, let alone the United States. But you know what else has been completely ridiculous? This election cycle. Regardless of your political views, there’s no denying that this has been one of the most over-the-top and entertaining presidential elections in history. So it seems like perfect timing to have these two ideas meet in The Purge: Election Year, the third film in the popular horror franchise. It has potential to really highlight some broad issues with society today, but writer/director James DeMonaco seems to have mistaken subtlety for obvious, in-your-face messages. Not only is this film not half as smart as it wants to be, it also fails to deliver a quality horror movie as well.

Two years after the events of The Purge: Anarchy, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) is now the head of security for presidential hopeful Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), a senator who vows to outlaw the Purge if elected. Her main opponent is Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor), a representative of the New Founding Fathers, the political party responsible for starting the Purge in the first place. This makes her a clear target and while Barnes ensures that Roan’s home is protected on the night of the Purge, a betrayal from within their group proves that she’s no longer safe. After an assault on her home, she and Barnes venture out into the streets and attempt to survive the one night a year where all crime – including murder – is legal.

I’ve always been a big fan of the premise of these films, but despite a great idea, DeMonaco has yet to deliver the goods. Their attempt at social commentary is incredibly surface level and this film’s focus on politics only creates more inherent problems with the premise. I’m willing to go with this ridiculous idea, but once they start focusing on the politics of it all, it becomes increasingly harder to accept as a reality. But even with these problems, they still can’t even deliver a decent horror film. DeMonaco is simply not a good director, failing to offer up any legitimate scares or compelling action sequences. Many of the films villains are so ridiculously over-the-top that they become comical and any of the film’s attempts at intended humor are cringeworthy at the best and borderline intolerant at the worst. Frank Grillo and Elizabeth Mitchell make for a compelling pair, but that doesn’t stop The Purge: Election Year from being another disappointment in the franchise. These films are nothing more than a great idea in search of a great movie.

The Purge: Election Year receives 1.5/4

Last year, The Purge excited me with its intriguing premise: What if all crime was legal for one night? It’s a shame that this interesting idea was letdown by the film’s lame execution, but that’s what made a sequel seem so promising. Instead of conforming to an average home invasion thriller like its predecessor, The Purge: Anarchy actually takes its characters outside the home and onto the street to show what really happens on Purge night. It’s exactly what detractors of the original film wanted to see and writer/director James DeMonaco deserves some praise for actually listening to his critics and taking this sequel into more interesting territory. Unfortunately, that’s probably the only praise that he’ll be receiving because The Purge: Anarchy is a downright unpleasant experience. It’s visually bland, the characters are unlikable and it lacks any of the excitement that would have been necessary to make this an entertaining B-movie.

The year is 2023 and America is in great shape. Unemployment is down, the economy is up and it’s all thanks to the annual Purge, when one night a year all crime is considered legal. Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) are a young couple who get stranded outside on Purge night when their car breaks down in the middle of a city. Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) also get stuck outside when their apartment is raided by a team of armed men. None of these four are prepared for the acts of violence that await them on the streets, but they receive protection from Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), a police sergeant whose only goal for the night is to exact revenge on one man who wronged him in the past.

With such a politically influenced premise, these films should be ripe with ideas, themes and commentaries regarding our country and government, but Demonaco seems more focused on thrills than ideas. There are themes present in the film, but they only scratch the surface of what should be a very thought provoking subject. There’s a scene where a character shoots off a gun and then proclaims that it’s her right as an American to do so. This is clearly meant to be a statement on gun control, but after this scene the subject never comes up again. It’s almost as if Demonaco thinks that simply mentioning these ideas without properly exploring them will be adequate enough. This poor handling of the thematic content could have been forgivable if the film had been an entertaining ride, but there’s hardly a single memorable moment throughout the film’s 103 minute runtime. Scenes are dimly lit and the hectic camerawork is edited together so sloppily that I often had to strain myself just to discern what I was supposed to be seeing.

The characters that the original Purge centered around may not have been very interesting, but at least they were sympathetic enough for the audience to root for their survival. This time around, the characters are beyond irritating and I wasn’t able to sympathize with any of them. Shane and Liz are a couple who seem to whine about something in nearly every scene and the arc that their relationship takes is obvious from their first few scenes. Eva and Cali aren’t quite as irksome, but they’re so uninteresting that I couldn’t even care about them when their lives are being threatened. Sergeant Barnes is the most interesting character of the bunch, but that’s not saying much; he’s got no personality and the only thing that fuels his character is the desire to hurt the man that hurt him.

There’s potential for a great film hidden somewhere inside The Purge: Anarchy, but Demonaco just can’t seem to bring it into fruition. It takes more than a great premise to complete a movie and this film and its predecessor are clear proof of that. If a third film is put into production, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic, but perhaps a new director will be necessary to finally make the film that this series has been waiting for. If crime is somehow made legal for one night in 2023, I can guarantee you that I won’t be stealing any copies of The Purge: Anarchy.

The Purge: Anarchy receives 1.5/4 

The Purge – Movie Review

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In today’s state of cinema, a film with a completely original premise is rare. Because of this, I was incredibly excited for The Purge. While I still believe that this film has one of the best premises I have seen in quite a while, the rest of the film is an unfortunate mess. The film starts out strong, but it ends up dissolving into an incredibly dull home invasion thriller.

The year is 2022 and crime is at an all-time low. The reason for this is that all crime is legal for twelve hours on one day every year. Most members of society have grown to accept this and James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) believes that it is morally right. He and his family put their house into lockdown with their advanced security system, but Sandin’s son Charlie (Max Buckholder) lets an outsider in. This outsider is being hunted by a group of rich elite with a charming leader (Rhys Wakefield). The leader tells them that if they do not let this stranger out of their home, they are coming in.

It’s clear that The Purge had an interesting and original concept, but simply having a good idea doesn’t necessarily make a good movie. Even though the first half of the film raises some interesting questions on morality, the second half of the film never fully explores them and is content with becoming your standard home invasion thriller. These problems would have been forgivable had the film been executed well, but unfortunately the film is rarely thrilling and never scary.

Horror films are known for having bland and unintelligent characters, but it has been quite a while since I have seen horror movie characters this inept. James and his wife Mary (Lena Headey) aren’t necessarily bad parents, but splitting up when the power goes out is never a good idea. The worst characters in this film are, without a doubt, the two children. First of all Charlie is the reason that they got into this mess in the first place and he continues to make decisions that put their lives at risk. Their daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is just as annoying but she is disappears for large chunks of the film, long enough for the viewer to forget about her until she returns.

Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey do a fine job of playing the parents in the family. Hawke’s performance is nowhere near as good as it was in 2012’s Sinister, but that could have something to do with this film’s weak directing. As Zoey and Charlie, Max Buckholder and Adelaide Kane are the weakest links in the cast, but I think this has more to do with the awful characters that they are portraying than their actual performances. The standout of the cast is Rhys Wakefield as the polite intruder. Sophisticated and charming, Wakefield is still able to make his character the scariest part of the movie.

I still have a lot of respect for The Purge. Even though its characters are weak and its climax is clumsily put together, it has the most original premise you will see all summer. There was quite a bit in this film that I would like to forget, but its premise is something that I will remember for quite a while.

The Purge receives 2/4