The Purge (2013)

‘The Purge’ is a sci-fi horror slasher film that almost shines a light on the separation between socio-economic classes.

With 2 sequels to its name, The Purge has proven it’s a movie people want to go and see. The question is: what is it about this film that keeps viewers coming through the turnstiles? Let’s see.

purge

The Purge
Cast

Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder

Directed by

James DeMonaco

Written by

James DeMonaco

Other Info

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated R
1h 25min
Riley’s Rating:

There is something profound about ourselves in this film but it’s more recalcitrant horror with no message about mankind. I imagine one still. Because the movie stops at horror, I can only take away stars that make it less effective horror. If it were a rational drama, for example I’d rate it much lower. Still, the metaphors hang in my consciousness.

I’m writing this review more than 3 years after the original film came out. I must admit I had not seen it until this week. This seems amazing because it is a household name in horror and sci-fi in recent years, and I have been busy at work seeing horror movies. The director James DeMonaco is known for the Purge franchise as well as The Negotiator.

It appears scary when the cover contains a masked villain and it certainly is. The part I saw in this film that not everyone may see is the fact that the villain is really you and me, our inner killer.

Watching CNN or any news channel will show you that people are barking vehemently about the economy and most assuredly welfare. To hear some wealthy folks talk, it would seem they want the poor people killed or “purged” as it were. This would, in theory, lower the unemployment rate and clean up the streets. On the other hand, you have self-proclaimed champions of the poor, like Al Sharpton for example, coming to the defense of welfare recipients. He would likely blame the ghettos and shacks where the undesirable poor live on the rich. They don’t pay their fair share. If you’re within a generation of me (born 1969) you are likely to have heard these arguments.

This film poses an idea that we as people are bloodthirsty. In the Purge, for one night a year, the people are allowed to kill the poor. That’s the crux of the plot in this film. People love the movie. I am interested in what that says about us inside. I see the movie as a metaphor. When we practice hate, we purge (kill). I’d argue further that the poor are just as guilty of this. Some people try to appear diffident but hate is all around in this film. In the same breath, neither side is represented accurately of course, I might add. Still, there is something to this class hate that rings true in our world today.

Unfortunately, this horror movie doesn’t stretch out enough as sci fi and more tenderly examine the disparate classes. That’s where The Purge loses a couple stars with me because it could have. According to the director, we’re all pigs.

Horror has less rules to follow than drama, sci fi, and even suspense but there are some rules it must follow to make it scary.

The killers in the Purge are bigger than life and they don’t seem like normal citizens. This is where the masks come in handy. They add to the scares and give the people a “John Doe” look and demeanor. Perhaps that helps my reading of the film.

Ethan Hawke plays James Sandin, a 30 something alarm and security systems area manager. The neighborhood seems to love him due to the fact that he is keeping the rich shored up with his protective wares. We find out later how some of them really feel. There is so much resentment in this film you could cut it like a knife. The most astounding thing to me is the rapid process that causes normal citizens to kill. He has a high school aged daughter (Adelaide Kane) who is in the house with her boyfriend. They have sex (in keeping with the horror tradition). He has a young son (Max Burkholder) who has health issues and a wife (Lena Headey) who is very strong and definitely a foundation for the family success. I couldn’t help but think he wouldn’t be one of the rich with a slaes job. Still, it’s relatively believable.

I see The Purge as a highly violent Twilight Zone where a commentary on human nature is being displayed. I find this exciting. If only I could believe that movie goers at large saw this message. This is a good horror film that engaged me but that I am surprised was made into 2 other sequels. I am not sure I’ll be quick to see #3, though I will see it for sure. I have watched #2 already. If you go purely for horror you will enjoy it. If you want the Purge to show you a message about democracy and humanity, you’ll need to wait for a better made sci fi film. I recommend it to you as a well-made horror film and poorly crafted sci fi with potential.

The Purge: Election Year

Although there were quite a few masks, it seems the masked killers were showing their faces this time. It’s easier to believe people in America would purge when they wear masks.

It’s easier to believe the Purge when the masks are on. That’s when the magic of the film happens. It’s violence and fun and … yes, election year!

purge-poster

The Purge: Election Year
Cast

Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson

Directed by

James DeMonaco

Written by

James DeMonaco

Other Info

1h 45min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Rated R

I rate a movie based on what genre it says it is. This makes horror movies tough because the genre is not cut-and-dry like the others. If horror is scares that produce a negative reaction such as fear, shock, sadness, etc. then The Purge: Election Year is more thriller than horror. Because it advertises as horror and produces few scares, it lost a star with me. Having said that though, it’s a pretty good thriller. Frank Grilli is back as Leo Barnes from the second film of the franchise. His son was killed in the Purge and now he has become the special security for a congresswoman running for President, Senator Charlie Roan played by Elizabeth Mitchell. The senator witnessed the brutal execution of her entire family in a Purge and as a result is running for President to use an executive order to end the Purge.

On the inner city front, Mykelti Williamson plays shop owner Joe Dixon who has just lost his Purge insurance along with millions in the city. The companies pulled out at the last minute offering continued coverage but only for impossible sums. The result is that many low to middle income people are vulnerable to the Purge. We saw this in the first two movies as a theme of the wealthy vs middle class. purge2The plot continues to a full on battle to keep the Senator safe. She is the hope of the middle and lower class to end the Purge. I started watching this franchise thinking what it could mean, because it’s not a movie to be taken at face value. Now, after the third installment I find the purpose and message of the film more muddied.As with the first film, I think an important message is to love your neighbor and not shoot his brains out with a shotgun, There are subtle things to take out of it too but few thrillers focus on morality and even less horror films do. It’s action packed and there is some vengeance play that’s fun to watch. This is a well made movie but the masks were under utilized. Finally, it comes up short on scares for a horror movie.