One Minute Review: The Purge (2013)

Release Date
June 7, 2013
Director
James DeMonaco
Screenplay
James DeMonaco
Distributed By
Universal Pictures
Budget
$3 million
Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller
Rated R for strong disturbing violence and some language
85 minutes

The Purge

Remember that horror film with a vibe much like “The Strangers”, a genius marketing plan using billboards and radio advertisements that look and sound like public service announcements, and some real potential. Yeah, me too. It was called “The Purge” and like the blood-lusting lunatics grinning through their masks, this film left all of that potential at the front door.

Don’t get me wrong, director James DeMonaco does produce some tense and thrilling moments, with a genius scheme of locking a threat inside with the innocent family while another threat tries to break in. Complete the scene with a shaky camera, dark hallways, and terrified faces and you’ve made yourself an enjoyable horror film. Also having familiar faces like Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke for audiences to latch onto helps keep things interesting, not to mention Adelaide Kane is stunning and Rhys Wakefield has a huge future playing villains with that chiseled face and huge smile.

Where “The Purge” becomes bothersome is in its poor plot structure, weak character development, and barrage of social and political commentaries. Almost the entire film is set-up. We meet our characters, we are introduced to the world that they live in and the rules that they follow including the doozy, once a year allowing 12 hours of uninterrupted mayhem where even murder becomes legal. Once we finally get to the action, it’s over before we can even appreciate it. Also, the characters remain weak, especially the son (Max Burkholder) whose wishy-washy questions and blank stares do the film no favors. Most horror films succeed when they stand for something, alluding to an issue, no matter how vaguely or metaphorically, and making a statement that can be interpreted.

“The Purge” slaps you across the face with these commentaries constantly and unabashed. Needless to say, most people walking into the theater to see this film knew what “The Purge” was from the ads, so spending nearly half of the film setting up the premise was ill-advised and unnecessary, leaving little room for the action to play out. Had the film stuck to the creepy, sadistic nature that everyone loved in “The Strangers” and this could have been a success. Instead, it is a standard thriller with very little else to offer.

 

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