From the moment I saw the first trailer for “The Purge” and read its synopsis, I knew I had to see it. The concept was so frightening yet intriguing. One thing’s for sure. No one will leave the theater and immediately forget the film. I’m willing to bet many audience members will reflect on it for the next couple of days.
In the year 2022, crime and unemployment are at an all-time low in the United States. It’s a wonderful time in the history of our great country. However, freedom and prosperity don’t come without a price. To keep order, the government has sanctioned one night a year for citizens to “purge” themselves. During this twelve hour period, all crime is allowed and the emergency services and police are off-duty. This is an opportunity for people to get their aggressions out any way they need to, whether it be looting, murdering, or some other means.
The Sandin family (Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, and Adelaide Kane) is spending the night of the Purge barricaded inside their high-class mansion. The home’s intricate security system is nearly full proof. When the Sandin’s son (Burkholder) sees a man (Edwin Hodge) begging for his life in front of their house, he opens the door and lets him in. Unfortunately, the group seeking their would-be victim want to “purge” and will stop at nothing to get the man back from the Sandins and punish the rest of the family for helping him.
Writer / Director James DeMonaco does a great job leaving you stunned, disturbed, and frightened all through “The Purge.” The very idea that the U.S. could sanction such an event is terrifying. What’s even scarier is how the people in the movie just accept this yearly activity as the norm. They believe it’s for the greater good of mankind and the country.
The scenes of violence range from gang wars to office killings and, of course, home invasions. The group that attack the Sandlins can’t be more than eighteen years old. To see these kids commit random acts of violence to relieve their stress is unsettling. Some die very horrible deaths themselves because of their gruesome deeds. At times, I didn’t know whether to cheer or feel sorry for them as they met their ends.
Many people see a movie’s running time and judge it by that. If it’s less than ninety minutes long, it’s under suspicion and usually labeled a dud. “The Purge” is the perfect example of a film that’s just as long as it needs to be at eighty-five minutes. For the most part, it has good pacing. There’s a spot in the middle of the movie that felt dragged out a little. However, once the action and terror kick into gear it’s a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride.
It’s evident what drew Producer Jason Blum to “The Purge.” He’s one of the guys responsible for the “Paranormal Activity” movies. Most movies he’s involved with feature some sort of surveillance or found footage and this is no different. “Dark Skies” had security cameras in all the rooms. “The Bay” was filmed with everything from news cameras to iPhones and home video cameras. “Sinister” featured 8mm home videos.
Blum hit the jackpot with “The Purge.” Not only does it have surveillance and security cameras, there’s a remote control car whose passenger is a doll with a spy camera lodged in his eye. This little contraption rolls back and forth throughout the house looking for the bad guys and lost family members. I have to admit, it’s a pretty ingenious way of fitting some type of “found footage” into the movie. It’s getting to the point where every time I see the Blumhouse Productions logo, I spend the entire movie waiting for surveillance and security camera footage to pop up. It’s like anticipating Stan Lee’s cameo in whatever the latest Marvel movie is.
There’s a little something for everyone in “The Purge” if you enjoy a good action or horror flick. We get some great fight scenes, quite a bit of tension and suspense, and some effective jump scares that will leave you breathless. Though it has its flaws, the movie works as a combination of entertainment and social commentary in the end.