‘The Purge’ Review – Frightening concept, Mediocre delivery

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Written and Directed by JAMES DeMONACO (2013)

The concept of The Purge is by far more horrifying than the actual execution of the events in film. Now, before you Ethan Hawke lovers get all bothered by that statement, I should tell say I am one you. I love Ethan; I just didn’t love him in this or The Purge in general. Or, in Sinister but that’s a different story.

The Purge is set in about 2020 in a time where crime is only 2 percent and the economy is apparently booming. Most citizens seem to live in gated neighborhoods with well-manicured lawns and mini-mansions. The extremely happy residents all drive luxury cars and own cute little teacup pups. Awesome! But, how is this Utopian society possible? Well, because once a year the Government (known as the New Founding Fathers) allows American’s to take to the streets armed with guns, bats and machetes, allowing patriots to kill, beat and unleash hell on anyone of their choosing. No lawyer needed, because for 12-hours you can be a barbarian without repercussion. That’s right unleash your inner Viking – ‘it’s cleansing’. Namaste.

Of course giving a person a pass to kill anyone with impunity would create chaos – right? Well not so much especially if you limit your murder to the poor and the homeless. Because who needs them? They aren’t human anymore anyway. Remember that whole booming economy claim earlier? Think about it. If you kill off the poor, who is left to become a drag on the economy? Eat the poor!

The still half-a-shade-of-sexy, Ethan Hawke plays a man called James Sandin; he makes his living selling security systems supposedly to protect the homes of families whom do not want to take part in the widespread violence. Let’s just say the business of fear (I’m looking at you NRA) is good for business, the purge security system sales have afforded Mr. Sandin the biggest mini-mansion on the block.

Hawke’s family consists of Mary Sandin (Game of Thrones’ LENA HEADEY), and their children—14-year-old Charlie (Parenthood’s MAX BURKHOLDER) and 16-year-old Zoey (Teen Wolf’s ADELAIDE KANE). Mary, Charlie and Zoey all seem to be appalled this night exists and they also are not very proud of Dad for profiting on the misery of others. We are not told that much about the backstory of the Sandins, although James does reveal that in the year’s prior to the purging ritual the family couldn’t make their rent, now they are in a position to purchase a boat. Also, Zoey is dating an 18-year-old kid whom the Dad does not approve of, I guess because of his age? I’m not sure but don’t you usually date 18-year olds at 16? Just me?

Nonetheless there is a whole storyline that happens with the boyfriend, which makes no sense and has absolutely no place in the film. I’m not sure where they were going with this, but they abruptly drop it and it’s never fully explained. Spoiler alert! It involves a gun. That is only one of the problems that I have with The Purge. Like I stated the concept of people running through the streets killing one another without reason other than they can, is extremely horrific. Honestly, I don’t think we at our base level are killers without cause. Color me a hippy.

Constantly we hear about the New Founding Fathers, we don’t fully know who and why the idea of purging came about. I would have loved to have seen this idea hit the Senate floor. I feel as if the writer/director has some political statement he’s trying to relay to the audience, but it’s never fully reached or fleshed out enough for you to pick up on what he’s exactly saying. Subtle politics. It might be a statement against the Tea Party. (I hope so, I still hate y’all.)

The Purge is not however all bad, there are some truly creepy moments. The costuming for the purgers (purge participants) was rather disturbing and intentional. The females were dressed in the best from the Laura Ingalls 2013 collection, and masked by Costco couture. The lead purger or as he’s billed the Polite Leader (RHYS WAKEFIELD), is all flavors of fucked up and deserves a side-eye from us all. Once the film gets to its climax the action is pretty great, it does however take it awhile to get there.

If you can suspend all thoughts of reality, logic and do not think about the complete implausibility The Purge is enjoyable enough. HorrorFatale says see it.