I will accept that I am somewhat late to the ‘Purge’ party having not seen any of the movies in the franchise, however, having been inspired by the ok’ish TV series on Amazon, it was time to check the other films out – starting, of course, with the first instalment.
Now there is something I will add, I haven’t been living under a rock, I knew the concept, and had plenty of opportunity to view the film, but I put it down at the time of release to a fairly generic home invasion, a subgenre I’m not desperately keen on.
The plot of the purge follows a family on the evening of the annual ‘Purge’, a night of where nothing is against the law. The Purge is an initiative by a political group known as the ‘founding fathers’ in that by allowing people to exercise the darker side of their personalities for one night only, the country enjoys harmony and productivity for the rest of the year. Whilst the Sandin’s, a wealthy upper-class family, have the state of the art home security, an unlikely turn of events sees them come under siege by those exercising their right to Purge…
I can say my intuition was bang on. Despite a fantastic concept, and it certainly has been thoroughly developed throughout the franchise (and TV show), this film simply is a somewhat bland home invasion movie with the wrap around of a really neat concept. Indeed, there are some really nice details surrounding the concept and psychology of The Purge which are told in the background throughout the film in differing mediums from TV to online videos which help to give some grounding and broader concept to the events of the evening, sadly the main storyline is very much by the numbers and does not reflect a comparative creativity to the films broader concept.
The majority of the movie, which is can be neatly divided into 3 smaller set pieces sees the family under threat from a variety of strangers, none of which really hold any sensible level of feasibility, but still, it gives an opportunity for the strong cast to run around the house either crying, being scared, and/or murdering people in self-defence.
As with most home invasion films there is a limited attempt at some tension before the main siege and as is typical we see the creepy antagonists, with their franchise identifying masks, mooching around the outside of the house via CCTV feeds. Sadly, once the perimeter is breached any level of tension quickly disappears, as does the threat if I’m completely honest. If ever a horror film could be criticised for its characters making dumb and irrational choices, this would be close to being offender number one. Still, it allows for some stylised certificate 15 violence to ensue, so I wasn’t too concerned at the gaping continuities and lack of feasibility of most of the films plot devices.
The violence is actually pretty decent, as with the cast, and the production in general, no expense was spared. The bullet wounds look real enough, and the blood splatter allowed by the low age rating was sufficient to get the idea that this is a savage event that is unfurling before the helpless – or indeed not quite so – family. Sadly, despite the films loud and brash efforts, the film struggles to maintain interest. By essentially writing itself into a corner the film just cannot go anywhere beyond the confines of its very limited plot. Will the family survive despite all the odds – of course they do, would they have any chance if the events took place outside of a horror film, not a chance, and as such silly little set pieces have to be conjured up to ensure that the film can draw to its inevitable and telegraphed conclusion; even the little ‘twist’ ending only served to reinforce my opinion that this movie’s concept far outweighed the films content.
Overall, I think by now anyone interested in ‘The Purge’ franchise has probably seen it anyhow and made up their own mind, but if you haven’t, you only need ask yourself one question; do you like home invasion movies such as ‘The Strangers’? Yes, then you will find this right up your street, and its not even a particularly poor example of one either. If you think this movies concept will deliver anything beyond what you’ve likely seen before, sadly not. I am however hopeful that once the franchise moves out of the home and into the lawless streets, one of the sequels could really provide the purge movie I’m looking for.