It is such a shame… A movie like this turning out the way that it did. Miss opportunity is the best string of words I could use to describe The Purge a film that is not as much ‘bad’ as it was ‘disappointing.’ Even then I’m not sure what is worse to make a movie that is labeled as bad and terrible or a movie that is so disappointing that it is destined to disappear into the realm of obscurity only to be brought up when one person mentions it and the rest of the group say “Yeah I think I remember the film” with about the same amount of fire and passion as Deep Blue Something’s song.
The overall story is that by the year 2022 the USA has become a pretty stable place with a functional government and a good economy, although run by corporations things do not seem half bad. Once a year however they hold an event known as ‘The Purge’ in which all emergency services are suspended and all crime becomes legal for the twelve-hour period. The only rule is that certain political officials and certain weapons are forbidden from being harmed or used. The story then centers around a middle class family the Sandins who is forced into the Purge when their son lets in a man being hunted by a group of people attempting to kill him. After this all hell breaks loose and the Purge ensues within the household.
By the synopsis alone this film screams run of the mill thriller with a home invasion plot. There are some pretty intense scenes yes and the film even attempts to make some commentaries on society at large and their need to vent their frustrations. But at the end of the day it just seems to fall flat on its face.
It is a Creative Idea
The idea of a set amount of time in which people are willing to let out there most sick and perverse selves is actually a pretty clever concept and one I haven’t seen in a while in the horror genre. Even looking on Wikipedia the only other time it has been used was in an old Star Trek episode and let’s face it between Star Trek and The Simpsons they have done just about everything you could ever think to do in the area of visual arts.
But the idea of 12 hours to indulge and release your most basic human instincts is a good idea and I think is a possibility to help maintain order and stability. Granted I would never want to see this ever put into effect but it is a concept none the less and one I applaud the creators of this film for coming up with.
It Is Not a Terrible Movie
This film isn’t bad. It could have been down right painful to even sit through but it wasn’t. There were some good and suspenseful scenes. The film does have a great background and atmosphere to it and you do feel for this family who is going through absolute hell during this twelve-hour period. There are good and suspenseful visuals and the performances from the whole cast are very decently done. For what it is and what it presented to us the overall feel of the film is a ‘passable’ performance on just about every way you can imagine.
Cliched Horror/Thriller Elements
Luckily this is a relatively small area and an area that I was not expecting to be as small as it was because this film does not necessarily rely on the old and tired horror/thriller cliches but some are still present. For instance the boyfriend (Tony Oller) of James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is just a straight up douchebag. Though I suppose that was the point that he was a douchebag who actually tries to kill his girlfriend’s dad but really I feel like a more compelling character could have been created then just douchebag boyfriend. I’m not asking for some Godfather like performance or well-rounded character but the moment that it was established that Zoey had a boyfriend and she was a teenage girl everyone was well aware that the boyfriend would be a complete dick who would attempt to do some dick move in the film that would eventually lead to his death and sure enough it happened.
Almost every time someone is about to be killed they are saved at the last moment by someone else who kills the killer. This is not a big cliche, but damn it this film made a case for it to become one. Almost every death in this film is preceded by that person trying to kill someone else then boom someone else comes to the rescue. Now that I think about it I am trying to think of a ‘murder’ that actually occurred as far as an actual premeditated crime. There is a lot of ‘attempted murder’ but almost every death is either in self-defense or saving another’s life in which both of those are well within the rights of the law (the latter being more vague depending on what state you are in but semantics). I can only think of one time where there might have been an actual murder and that is it. So really even if there was law and order this would be a whole lot of dismissed cases for the surviving parties.
Third it really does follow a standard home invasion type of film and it does end up having a pretty predictable ending… Which is what leads me to my second point.
There Was SO Much Potential
This film just had so much potential. It had an original premise and a really great world and environment set up around it… And yet it is just a home invasion movie. These home invasion movies are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere from theatrically released films to direct to DVD pieces of crap. Granted this is one of if not the best home invasion films I have ever seen with a legit logical premise why there are no police and why these people are in such peril unlike others who portray the police as a bunch of incompetent morons and the killer as some super genius. But man this story could have been about so much more. What is this new government like, what else goes on during the Purge, who takes part in the Purge, who are these people who wait all year for the Purge. There was just so much more here with an entire countries worth of stories and could be focused on… And yet they just seem to focus on this one house throughout an entire 12 hour time span of complete and total anarchy. It just gives off the feeling that we missed out on so much more. Like there was a bigger movie going on and yet we got to watch some side characters experience.
This would have been a lot better if it were in an anthology like setting where a home invasion was just one of the several things that happened during the Purge. There could have been a plot about a mob hitman who has to kill all his targets within the twelve-hour time limit or riots on the streets or a person being chased by a stalker who has their window of opportunity to attack. This is a case where there was too much atmosphere. They set the stage too well to the point that the stage became more interesting than the play itself.
This is one instance where I would love to see a sequel to this thing. Actually a sequel could make this film even better if they begin to focus on other aspects of the Purge then just home invasion plots. So yes I am begging the creators of this film… You still have something here and you can make something of it. Don’t waste your opportunity by focusing on three pixels of the bigger picture.
For what this film was, it wasn’t bad. It was entertaining and it is something that if given the option I would probably watch again. However for what this film could have been it will always have the stigma of ‘meh it was okay but they could have done so much more.’ I do hope for a sequel to this film and if there is I hope that it is expanding on the world at large and turning this into an anthology type of movies.
Final Score 2.5/5
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