The Purge, a review of an interesting concept for a society.
Director/Writer: James DeMonaco (The Negotiator / Assault on Precinct 13)
Cast : Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, Edwin Hodge, Tony Oller, Rhys Wakefield
The Purge opens telling it’s 2022, that the U.S. unemployment is down to 1% and crime is at an all time low. We’re then treated to a disturbing set of scenes of assualt being committed. It’s about as blunt of a presentation as you might want to be exposed to.
The opening act introduces us to security equipment executive James Sandin (Hawke), his wife Mary (Headey), his sone, Charlie (Parenthood‘s Max Burkholder), and daughter Zoey (Kane). They and their neighbors are preparing for the Annual Purge. A day when people are allowed to actively commit criminal activity. In fact, it’s encouraged that folks participate to release all the hate and violence pent up inside them. And it lasts from 7pm to 7am. Blessed be the new founding fathers, as they all say in the film.
As the night is signaled to start with a city siren, Sandin activates their security system, the purge commences and the fun, for some, begins. (BTW, the security system is the one that Sandin sells, and of which, he sold to all his neighbors.)
But after the house is locked down, we find Zoey’s boyfriend has stowed away in the house so he can spend quality time chatting with her father and why he doesn’t like him.
Then Charlie sees a guy outside the house on their security video feed, crying for help. And opens the security gates for him. Dad closes the gate, but not in time, and then…
Well, I can’t tell you everything about the opening act!
Charlie’s act of saving the bloody homeless guy (Hodge) tends to set the wheels of the rest of the movie in motion, and it went from there.
Sure, The Purge uses the classic family in trouble scenario and sure, we’ve seen it before. Despite that, the slide into the second act of the film does a good enough job to build a nice level of tension while waiting for the other shoe to drop in each subsequent scene.
Though I don’t usually consciously hear the music from the background, I noticed it here, helping build my tension levels.
But there were some oddities in the details of the characters and story…
There was an odd tone to the family, where mom and dad felt like the Beavers from that classic TV series. At least in the beginning.
Then the kids, who I presume have been raised in this society structure of letting the freaks run rampant annually, still freak out. Plus the kids are the most uncontrollable little humans I have ever seen.
This unique society has such a dual sided sword. On one hand, the criminal ilk gets thinned out a bit, many folk get to vent their pent up aggressions, and supposedly, this helps keep the crime rates down.
But inviting the public to go out and do what they secretly want to on this night, invites the rich to bear arms they can afford, and the gangs, to arm up and do what they want.
And what was odd about some of the scenes, was the look in the faces of the folks who were participating in this practice… they all looked diabolically possessed. All of them.
It was slightly one-dimensional.
Oh, and if you noticed Rhys Wakefield in the cast, he plays a rather diabolically polite gang leader. You’ll see what I mean if you watch this movie.
To be honest, The Purge was a fairly entertaining movie and has an odd set of low review scores out there. I enjoyed it and did not mind dropping the rental fee to watch it. It was also great to see Parenthood’s Max Burkholder in something other than the show, plus Lena Heady being anything but an evil bitch was also a pleasant surprise.
But I also have to do a double take because usually a film distributor goes all out and slathers up the web with a ton of promo stills from a film, and all I can find is barely more than a dozen promos offered in my resources.