Running Time: 85 minutes Classification: 15 (UK) R (U.S.)
Plot: America 2022, ALL crime is legal for 12 hours as the annual Purge commences. One family supposedly on lockdown get caught up in the purging events of a masked group, causing them to be held hostage in their own home.
Good Points (What Worked):
– The film gets you thinking. Films that make you question what you would do in that situation means the director/writer(s) are doing something right. The film presents you with a moral dilemma, without spoiling too much, the film indirectly asks, could you send a complete stranger back out in to the violent purging events knowing they’ll be killed right away, but your family would be secure? Or do you help the stranger and do your best to protect your family? Set only 9 years in the future, The Purge scares you into the prospect of ‘what if’ this happened. The scary thing about it is that we think it could happen in the space of 9 years. Not necessarily the part about the government allowing the Purge to commence, but that people would participate.
– The idea itself is quite unique. The use of the masks make the film eerily creepy, once the masks are removed, you just see some stuck-up rich kids looking to vent their frustrations from the past year on this one particular night. If you like jumpy films then this film is for you, the majority are just cheap shots, i.e. glass smashing, gun shots etc.
– If you like gore, you’re in for a treat. There are two incidents that come to mind, a broken nose and a stab wound – both occasions were unpleasant to watch. However, this could be classed as a good point because as a viewer I could feel the pain, which means both make-up and the actors did a good job!
– The cast were pretty good; Ethan Hawke plays James Sandin, a family man who sells home-security systems for a living. After selling one to practically everyone in their gated community, the Sandin’s are a very wealthy family. His performance as a protective family man is portrayed well; it wasn’t mesmerizing and not as good as his part in the 2012 horror movie Sinister, so I doubt it would be noticed as one of his career highlights, but still, it was very convincing.
Bad Points (What Didn’t Work):
– Being rated a ‘15’ in the UK; the opening CCTV footage seemed a little extreme. It was uncomfortable viewing to say the least, a very graphic montage of the previous purging years. It looked almost too realistic to be able to just pass off as a scene from a movie, because in reality, this stuff is happening more and more each day, all over the world. In hindsight it wasn’t a necessity to have included it, seemed to go a little overboard. An ‘18’ certificate would’ve been more appropriate it seems. The message of the film is too extreme, along with a rather big helping of violence and blood & gore and this film should definitely be an ‘18’ in my eyes.
– Leaving the cinema and after much deliberation, the message of the film still seems quite hazy. In order to keep crime, unemployment rates at an all-time low, the annual Purge supposedly allows all American citizens the opportunity to cleanse their souls from the 7pm-7am time period. Those on ‘lockdown’ choose not to participate and just sit through the night without trouble. One of the many issues presented in the film is, what about those without a place to stay, do they get no rights? After the twelve hours are over, everything goes back to normal – which just seems odd. Not only that, but nowhere in the film is it really pointed out, that extreme violence like this has consequences, furthermore, that it’s just plain wrong.
– Being a horror/thriller, you’d think the film would have a few twists and turns, but to me personally, I felt it was very predictable. It may have just been the case that you weren’t meant to think into it too much, but as viewer you judge the characters and their intentions, so it was predictable – not to say everyone will find it that way though. Also, there are some moments when you just ask yourself, ‘why would they do that?’
There’s no denying the fact that The Purge is a gripping film throughout. The concept/theory behind it is quite terrifying, but insightful at the same time. The way the film includes you without you actually knowing it, is very clever – that’s one of the best parts about the film, you question yourself and your beliefs. The reason for the three stars is because it was good, not brilliant. Somehow there are a couple of ‘funny’ moments in the film, which don’t necessarily lighten the mood, but actually add some sort of sinister (pun not intended) feel to it. Think crazy woman tickling a woman scared for her life, or piggy backs around a death trap, you get the picture! The reason it doesn’t get a 4+ is due to the heavy reliance on gunshots and gore to try and make the film more entertaining, plus the fact that they fail to mention that violence is never the answer, feels like it’s condoning it. Overall, the film is worth a watch, if not to just have your own take on it!