Here’s my Purge night for this year: Fill up my car with gas, choose the option to pay inside, then DON’T. Head over to Giordano’s, steal like ten deep dish pizzas. Head home, and eat as many pizzas as I can while I file all my taxes fraudulently. But then again, I like to live dangerously.
If you’re unfamiliar with what The Purge is; it’s a film set in 2022, where for the past five years the government has made all crime legal for a 12 hour period just once a year. It supposedly gives all the citizens of America a chance to let out their pent-up rage; and in the world of the film, it does in fact work. Crime for the rest of the year is at an all time low, and (I assume due to the makeshift population control it causes) unemployment is at 1%. Obviously this would never work in real life, because why would it? But it does present an interesting, original premise for a horror/thriller film.
While the movie does offer up a decent amount of backstory about the Purge in the first 10 minutes or so, which is really intriguing, the main story of the film is about a family in a rich suburb who, through a series of dumb mistakes and questionable decisions, end up having their home under attack by a group of young Purgers. It’s one of those movies where you can say “Well if they did this instead…” or “If they didn’t do that, like idiots…” at almost every turn, then things would have worked out much better for them. But then you’d have a boring movie.
The Purge is pretty successful in accomplishing a few things. For one, it is genuinely suspenseful. For as much as the movie is mostly a Straw Dogs clone, it’s still pretty tense watching these people walk around their house in the dark. Like a lot of these smaller horror movies, it has some pretty great cinematography sporadically showing up throughout. The editing is good, especially considering the film is only about 80 minutes long, and doesn’t over stay its welcome. And the acting is good for a movie like this. Lena Heady pretty much rules.
But where this whole movie was basically a small story in the grand scheme of the premise, I felt a little disappointed that this couldn’t have gotten a more epic treatment. When it was over, I was just thinking about the lost potential. If there’s a topic that would have benefited from an anthology treatment, it’s The Purge. I don’t know if they are planning on making sequels (but I’m guessing the answer is yes, as it made $36 million off a $3 million budget), but I’ll put on my movie producer hat and think up what would have been a cool anthology about The Purge, using a little more of the subject’s potential:
1. Start with a brief history of The Purge, showing all of the characters from the upcoming segments being normal people in their daily lives in the hours leading up to the Purge.
2. The first story could be about a country club for the very rich, supposedly safe from the antics of the Purge. In the previous years of Purging, everything has gone perfectly; but this time, the lower class maids and waiters finally revolt and try to kill all of the rich people. Scalding people with hot tea, death by golf balls, literally drowning a guy in a bathtub of money. Let’s keep it as ironic and dumb/fun as possible.
3. Next, a bank robber has been planning a heist for an entire year to Purge-rob a mega bank, only to find out when he gets in there that the threat isn’t the guards or the security system, it’s a second group of bank robbers robbing the same bank at the same time from a different entrance. Double robber gunfight? Uhhh, schyeah.
4. Time for a comedy segment! An experienced hired assassin takes the day off during the Purge, and goes out of his way not to kill anybody…!
5. There could then be a Most Dangerous Game kind of situation, where a rich guy kidnaps a bunch of people and lets them loose in a wildlife preserve or a shopping mall or something. Did I mentioned the rich guy would be played by Wesley Snipes? The rich guy will be played by Wesley Snipes. I will also require him to have the same costume and haircut he had in Demolition Man.
6. THEN you can end on the final segment that was the actual movie I saw, about the guy who sells security systems who ironically has his house broken into.
Now where’s my money?! I’m a big wig movie producer now! Thanks for the job! What? M. Night Shyamalan wants $105 million dollars to shoot a film about a colony on Mars? Ok, well, I guess I don’t see what’s wrong with th- HEY! WAIT! You almost got meeeeeee, you sly dog, you…
Anyway, as it stands now, The Purge is pretty much just a nice, standard horror thriller. I guess it’s more original than most horror schlock that usually gets put out. But don’t get me wrong, it’s still kind of schlock. The ending is fairly predictable, and then the DOUBLE ending is DOUBLE predictable. But at least it’s not about ghosts being caught on security cameras.
6.5 out of 10