Published on June 11th, 2013 | by Allan Brown0
The Purge Review
Movie Review: The Purge (2013)
Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane
Plot: The year is 2022 and crime levels in the USA are close to nonexistent. The reason – For one 12 hour period every year the Government permits all crime including murder, rape and robbery to be legalized in a bid to restore the balance in society. The result is; 364 days of peace and harmony. Welcome to ‘The Purge’.
James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a successful businessman living in the upmarket side of the city with his wife Mary (Lena Heady) and 2 children Charlie and Zoe (Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder). One the night of the annual purge James activates his high security system and locks down the property as he and his family prepare to watch the live broadcast on TV.
All is as it should until a local vagrant is picked up on the properties CCTV camera, screaming for help. Unbeknown to the rest of the family, James’ youngest son Charlie deactivates the security system allowing the homeless man to take refuge in the property. Soon it becomes clear that the man has and is being pursued by a group of enthusiasts who are implementing their annual right to purge. When the ultimatum is given, ‘hand over the vagrant or we will kill you and your whole family’ what ensues is a battle of wit and morals as the family struggle to stay alive the night.
I must admit, when I first heard the premise surrounding the movie it caught my attention. The idea of one night of a legalized slaughter had me hoping the film would be wrapped in some kind of social analogy or have the whisperings of an interesting little satirical critique of government theory or new world order, sadly all my hopes were shattered within the first 10 minutes when I realised I had been duped again into watching another shallow and lazy teenage home invasion film.
All the bigger more interesting ideas and metaphors surrounding ‘The Purge’ from the how and why to the parallels of life today in our social climate; crime, homelessness, packed prisons, a stretched health care service and unemployment are abandoned quickly to make way for another poor, generic teen horror movie. The film progressively nose dives further into absurdity were the decisions and choices by our lead characters (who seem disappear for large sections of the film) are so poorly realised that their cardboard standees offer more life and realism only lowers the dignity of the film further.
I for one don’t mind a popcorn thriller or fun teenage horror film if it’s done well. My problem with The Purge and so many films like it is the fact it dangles and creates these interesting moral dilemmas but then abandons them refusing to develop the idea or devote any time expanding the concept and thus we are left with a movie full of half baked ideas.
From the neighbours creepy niceties at the beginning of the film to the camera mounted remote control car are just a few of the lazy plot devices that are so telegraphed in early on that it comes across as nothing more than utterly insulting as an audience member.
While this film is supposed to be set in the ‘real world’ and only 9 years in the future we as audience members are required to throw logic, reason and truly suspend belief from the get go in order to buy into this preposterous main theme. With that said there are just too many plot holes to fully buy into the concept.
♦ We are expected to buy that in the year 2022, only 9 years from now 99% of the general public would be willing to partake in Rape, Murder, Robbery, Assault just because the government tells them it’s ok?
♦ How could the average family go about their daily business and live a fulfilled life knowing that one day every year they could fall victim to The Purge?
♦ It is also not clarified why a law abiding citizen who doesn’t need to purge would. Nor is it clarified why a criminal would give up crime 364 days a year just because he is allowed to do it legally one day a year.
♦ The antagonists are supposed to be well educated civilians from high society and we are to believe these individuals suddenly become homicidal maniacs one night of the year, thirsty for blood and who are not frightened to die themselves?….. The premise of King Kong offers more believability.
Director James DeMonaco (Who directed the very similar 2005 ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ home invasion film) fails to provide any answers to such inconvenient questions and drops all hope of the film being a possible social parallel to what’s going on in today’s world.
Summary: While there is a good thematic idea at its core it is never explored or given any weight or time to develop thus leaving the film just another lazy, generic, teenage bore-fest.