I missed horror film The Purge when it was released earlier this year, however with its bleak depiction of future America and creepy trailer I was determined to watch it eventually. But this year has already seen awesome horror films in the form of The Conjuring and You’re Next, can The Purge be up there with the best of this year’s horror offerings?
Set in the year 2022, America has become a “nation reborn”, employment rates are low and so is crime-for most of the year. Every year all of America engages in The Purge-for 12 hours people can commit any crimes with no fear of punishment. This release supposedly allows the citizens to be normal, productive members of society for the rest of the year. One rich family, the Sandins are locked down for the night using the high security system that patriarch James (Ethan Hawke) sells for a living. But when a bloody stranger calls out for help, James’ son Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets him in, causing a group of teenagers hunting for the stranger to turn up at their door.
It’s an interesting premise at the centre of The Purge. The divide of the rich and the poor is an important theme of the film although it’s a bit heavy-handed at times. The snippets of news we hear before the Purge starts hints at a world where the rich can buy their safety while the poor are left to fend for themselves. It’s also noted that high level government members are excluded from the purge and cannot be harmed.
Although there a few good, jumpy moments in the film it’s never as scary as the trailers suggested it would be. There are hints of layers within the Sandin family but there’s not much to really care about them. Slowly as they start to develope more of a conscience they become more sympathetic but they are sketchy characters at best. Still at least they get more than the stranger gets. We don’t really know anything about him apart from that he’s probably poor, a group is following him and planning to kill him. It would have been more interesting to know more about him but he’s mostly hiding or knocked out for most of the film.
What helps save the film from being a complete waste of time is Rhys Wakefield’s turn as the Polite Leader (we never know his name either). His gang turn up in scary smiling masks, yet he somehow looks more sinister without his mask. He’s all smiles and speaks of good manners in his conversation with James, yet is threatening to kill the whole family if they don’t hand over the stranger. He’s a great villain who belongs in a better film.
Rating-2.5/ Besides Rhys Wakefield disturbing turn, the film is not as terrifying as its premise suggests