The Purge Review
A GREAT IDEA WASTED
The idea of just letting out your anger in an extreme manner, such as severely injuring someone, is a thought that most people will have for a split second. It is nothing to take too seriously, and you would be hard pressed to find even the calmest person that doesn’t think about it. In the world of The Purge, a new horror-thriller film from Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum and produced with Michael Bay, severely injuring and even murdering people is a perfectly OK-government sanctioned annual event. The film uses this event as a background to propel it’s story and universe. The Purge’s unique story cannot even save The Purge, as mediocre acting, meaningless plot twists, lazy scares, and a terribly unsatisfying ending drag it down.
The story of The Purge takes place in the not so distant future of 2022 where America is under control by the “new Founding Fathers” and the crime rate is at 1%. The “new Founding Fathers” decide that once a year, The Purge, a night where all crime is legal for 12-hours, will help “cleanse” people. Ethan Hawke plays James Sandin, a rich executive that has a standard typical family. Lena Headly of Games of Thrones fame plays his wife Mary, and Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane play their children, Charlie and Zoe, respectively. The family is at odds with the neighbors and with each other, despite James wanting them to have a perfect family. When the annual Purge starts, Charlie lets in a wounded stranger being chased by a group of freaks, led by the unwelcoming polite stranger, played by Rhys Wakefield. From there it is up to James to fight for his family.
Despite it’s creative premise The Purge fails to deliver on it. The world that this movie takes place is so interesting, yet does so little with it. The movie fails to explain this kind of “new America” that the Sandins live in. It is just sort of there for a background. The film is full of clichés and overall boring aspects that water down a unique idea for a horror film. The scares can be seen from miles and miles away, and are not that scary at all. The freaks that invade the home are so stereotypical and overly creepy that it almost seems like a parody of horror film villains, rather than legitimate threats. It all becomes very standard and not exciting at all.
The Purge’s biggest twists really come out of nowhere with some really lazy explanations too, which will no doubt anger any viewer.
There are some good parts of The Purge, even though there is much of the film has many, many awful aspects to it. Ethan Hawke turns in a solid performance as a normally, happy-go-lucky father, to a man pushed to the brink of insanity. Rhys Wakefield is also creepy and quite menacing as the main freak that instigates James and his family. Audience members would not want some smiling sociopath at their door like this one, especially one that can go from calm and collected to psychotic in a matter of a second.
The rest of the cast pulls in absolutely horrible or just average ones. Lena Headly is not very interesting, and neither are the two children, Charlie and Zoe. Zoe hates her dad, because the writing said so, and the audience will hate Charlie for getting the mind-numbingly stupid film started. The neighbors of the Sandins are also from the absolute bottom of the barrel actors that have ever been put into a horror film. There are performances by Keanu Reeves that put in more effort and emotion!
The Purge is more of a missed opportunity than something truly original. The scares are minimal and moviegoers are more likely to spend more time being angry at the characters rather than sympathizing with them. As great as Ethan Hawke is in the genre (with his surprisingly great performance in last year’s Sinister), it is not even close to saving this film. Avoid at all costs, unless you are into seeing great ideas being flushed down the drain.