The Purge

click to watch trailer

Bar the windows and doors, the bloodthirsty rich are out in their utopian masks, on a hunt. That’s the premise for writer/director James DeMonaco’s horror film set in 2022 America.

The producers of Paranormal Activity and another Ethan Hawke horror, Sinister dream up an America reborn under the “New Founding Fathers”, with unemployment and crime rates at an all-time low. But for heaven on earth to become a reality, the contributing members of society need to Purge themselves of their violent tendencies.

The objects of their regression? The tired, the poor, the huddled masses…

In essence, DeMonaco suggests that for an economy to thrive, those without must suffer the insuppressible cruelties of the rich, those entitled by virtue of their class to indulge their basest impulses at the expense of lesser citizens – all sanctioned by the government in an annual 12 hour window known as “The Purge”.

Proponents of the movie are calling it “subversive”… I wonder what authority usurped in the movie’s vision of America is the target of their criticism.

The story assumes elitist murderers are law-abiding citizens the other 364 days of the year, and in the absence of big brother, self-regulated citizenry defaults to a murderous rampage. The underlying theme seems to be that monetary benefit directly contradicts our morals. In the case of the Sandin family, they must choose either to return the nameless vagrant who had claimed sanctuary in their secure mansion, or open the doors to a threat on their lives.

The strongest, most disturbing part of the film comes when Hawke’s character is holding down the innocent, wounded man and telling his wife to “put pressure” on the man’s wound; which means stabbing him where he’d already been shot. It was meant to be provocative and challenging. It could have been, if the film made any kind of persuasive argument that every person has this amount of rage built up inside themselves, especially in utopia.

In the vein of willing suspension of disbelief, there are quite a few blissfully overlooked plot holes. For example, if the “dregs of society” have been murdered in droves year after year, why are there still so many left? If the economy is flourishing, wouldn’t that mean more opportunity for the jobless to find work and be able to afford the security they need to survive the purge?

Oh, nevermind. This is probably the worst movie to be released this summer. I know metacritic and rottentomatoes are rating it higher than After Earth and, as much as I disliked that one, at least it had some redemptive value.

My overall rating 1 star out of 5 stars
Rated R for strong disturbing violence and some language

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