When I first saw a commercial for The Purge on television, I had mixed feelings. I felt that the concept of the movie was interesting, but nothing else really stood out that made me want to see this movie in theatres immediately. Welcome to Cinematic Critiques, I am your reviewer, first-year Brady Lass. Should you go out and see The Purge, or should you do what the rich people do in the movie and just stay in your home while the awfulness passes?
The film takes place in the year 2022. The United States is doing very well and even has a one percent unemployment rate. How are they able to do this? Every year the government institutes a twelve-hour event known as “The Purge.” At this time, crime such as murder and robbery are legalized and emergency services, such as the police, are unavailable. This allows the people to vent out all of their anger or help themselves in the most desperate actions. The concept itself is actually pretty thoughtful and original.
What isn’t so original is the plot that ensues as well as the family. Stop me if you’ve heard this one; the father is a successful businessman, the mother is a stay-at-home mom and a great cook, the daughter is disconnected from the family because of her boyfriend, and the son modifies his toys to be quirky little inventions. While the family locks up their entire house with the security system developed by the father, the son lets a wanted stranger into the home. This attracts the attention of ValleyScare rejects known as “The Purgers,” who threaten to kill the family if they do not allow them to kill the man they took in. This leads the family to slowly realize that “The Purge” might be doing more harm than good.
It feels like the movie is trying to make a valid, political point but just never seems to convey it. The audience is hardly given any time to take in how awful the state of this world is and think about it. The characters are not well developed, and the family changes their mind about the effectiveness of “The Purge” in just one scene with hardly any build-up to make them consider changing their minds. The concept of a reimagined America that has a twelve hour legal crime spree could have been great to carry an entire movie and focus on a point that can really come across to the audience. Instead, it’s only used as an excuse for a home invasion movie.
One cliché that I see in a lot of horror and thriller movies is certain characters make a stupid mistake that gets them killed or close to killed. In this movie, that applies to every single character. All of them either say or do something that kept making me face palm so hard that I saw a hand print on my forehead when I looked in a mirror. The villains cannot do a simple kill in this movie. They cannot just simply shoot someone even if they have the weapons; they have to dance or chant something before they kill someone allowing more time for the victim to escape or fight back. If that isn’t idiotic enough, the father admits that the security systems that he sells for a living in the future are not made to withstand a number of aggressive assaults.
The acting did not help to improve this film. The actors ranged from annoying to unconvincing. For example, a certain character that gets mortally wounded and looks down at his injury with just a basic stare. The audience cannot feel pain for the character if the actor does not convince them he is in pain. My favorite character was probably the homeless man that was hiding in the house of the family from “The Purgers.” This is primarily because the character hardly speaks throughout the whole movie. The less stupidity, the better.
The villains with clown masks try to act over-the-top to make themselves appear frightening. I thought that the Joker’s henchmen at the beginning of The Dark Knight were scarier, and they were only in the first three minutes of the movie! “The Purgers” cartoony acting did not make them look scary, it made them look, well, cartoony! Their appearances did not frighten me; they irritated me. They are just spoiled rich kids in clown masks invading a home, both the concept and execution of the villains did not intimidate me.
If I can praise one thing besides the concept, it is that it does look good and is well shot. The only reason I praise these aspects is because the film, despite having five producers (including Michael Bay), only had a budget of three million dollars. It did not rely on special effects or CGI like some other films of this genre today. While it occasionally had a little bit of jiggle, the fights did not overuse the shaky camera (then again, I could be too generous, considering I saw Elysium a few weeks ago).
The movie tries to be a combination of a thriller and home invasion movie in order to try and make a political point. Even if the concept is original, that doesn’t mean the rest of the script is, especially in a genre like this. That means that if the director bores the audience with a formulaic and predictable script, the point will not get across. In this movie, “The Purge” is supposed to help rid America of unemployment; in reality, all it did was rid my time when I could have been watching a better movie.