Originally, I felt that the ad campaign for The Purge came a bit later than most movies. I didn’t hear about it or see the trailer until Evil Dead, which was in March!
But they really ramped up the ad campaign in the last few weeks, almost to annoyance. Needless to say (because I am a coward), the trailer frightened me, and gave me great hope that this movie would provide scares along with philosophical debates about ethics, morals, and the human spirit.
The year is 2022 and America is a peaceful country! Unemployment is less than 1%, and there is basically no crime. Why? Because we have changed the way America works! Every year, for 12 hours, everything is legal in the United States. Murder, theft, you name it. No police or firefighters will be on duty, everything is fair game. It lets people vent out their frustrations, and become wild animals if they so choose.
A lot of rich people choose to stay inside with fancy security systems. Like James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), a fancy security systems salesman. He has the fanciest securest house on the block, because of his profitable year, so his wife (Lena Headey) and two kids (Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane) are set!
But once The Purge begins, the son sees a homeless man (Edwin Hodge) running down the street. He noobs it up, opens the door, and lets the homeless man in. This opens an unfortunate can of worms when an unruly mob of masked college students clamor outside of their villa, wanting to get their purge on. The polite leader (Rhys Wakefield) gives them the chance to turn the homeless man in, and they won’t attack the family. But if they wait too long, they will tear down their walls and kill everyone inside. Oh snap.
Looks like we have quite an ethical conundrum on our hands. Can they willingly send out a homeless man to his death? Can James willingly let a man die, if the life of his family is potentially on the line?
I mean, he looks trustworthy, that polite leader.
The first thing I noticed about The Purge is that it is almost painfully short. 85 minutes in length! That is usually a warning sign. That means the plot doesn’t last long enough to fill a full movie. Or they realize the idea gets old really quick.
But the length was really appropriate for the plot, and I never felt like it dragged too much. There was some long scenes that were just heavy in suspense, but when you are wandering around your house in the dark, looking for strangers, you aren’t just going to run around every corner.
It was somewhat predictable, with the plotlines, yet equally surprising. I loved watching Ethan Hawke go on a kill streak to save his house. I would have stood up and cheered, if I didn’t respect normal movie watching practices.
It could have delved more into the ethical nature of the entire Purge, but I liked that it used subtle features to tell us the backgrounds of various characters, without outright saying them to our face. I do think they harped on the idea of murder too much, when other laws, like downloading music and stealing a car are just as legal. Time to get the misses some new bling, I say.
The movie is full of jump scares with only a few scenes that made me leave my seat, but I think it still is an interesting addition to the horror genre.
3 out of 4.