I have thought about this idea for a very long time. What if all crime was legal for a certain period of time? Murder, theft, arson or whatever other sick, demented ideas you can come up with… they’re all legal. It’s such an interesting topic and yet it’s absolutely terrifying to think about. No help, no police or fire department; you are completely alone to fend off the sickos and deviants of the planet. It’s a good thing this is only a hypothetical concept and not a reality. Participation is completely optional and up to every individual to decide for themselves; what would you do? Louis C.K. said it best: “The law against murder is the #1 thing preventing murder.” We tell ourselves that we are good people, but deep down in us all there is that beast waiting to be unleashed. If the law weren’t there… would you?
This is the topic that The Purge faces, and while it doesn’t address it in the most interesting way possible it certainly provides a small, maybe somewhat unrealistic, window into what it might be like. For one 12 hour period every year, the purge happens and all is legal and permissible. Some choose to partake in the chaos and others, like the Sandin family, choose to hide behind a security system and ride it out every year. Every time The Purge commences they lock their home up and bunker down, and every time the 12 hour period floats on by without a hitch… until now. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is in his office, his wife Mary (Lena Headey) is exercising on a treadmill. The kids sit in their rooms and wait until it’s all over when suddenly the younger of the two kids sees a desperate man on their security camera running from a group of people bent on his demise. Stupid and naïve, the young kid unlocks the system long enough for the stranger to take asylum in their home. It is from this moment on that all hell breaks loose and there is not a soul to help them. If they thought this man might hurt them then certainly the large group of psychopaths outside their home will ruin their lives. Defend your life and the lives of your loved ones at all costs or it will be the end of you.
If all you’re looking for is a violent, mindless, horror-“ish” movie than look no further. If you want a little substance with your gratuitous violence, don’t necessarily look elsewhere; just lower your expectations and try to enjoy a pointless killing fest. This is one of those movies where you just want to yell at the screen in hopes that the characters will somehow hear your cries. It’s as if these characters read up on all the things you shouldn’t do in a horror film and did exactly those things and nothing but. It is so frustrating to watch. They make decisions no one in their right minds would ever make. It makes you laugh at some of the stupid stunts they pull. When the stupid, old enough to know better, idiot son lets this complete stranger into the house endangering his entire family the mother tells the father to not get upset. Are you kidding me?!?! I would beat that kid’s ass until its purple. Hell, it’s The Purge, I could do a whole lot worse with zero consequence from the law. Decisions like these are rampant and it’s very hard to watch without yelling out a few times begging these moron characters to stop what they are doing. But, I’m here to say that it is pointless, they wouldn’t listen.
Another example: The father decides to “be a better person” and not break his moral code. His life and the lives of everyone he loves are in danger but at least he can say he got them all killed for the right reasons… idiots. I’m not saying they all die, I’m not saying they all don’t die; I’m simply stating that this moron puts his entire family in danger for a stupid reason.
When the credits started I thought that it wasn’t bad but I thought I should give it a couple hours to ruminate and then write this review. I’m glad I did this because I realized that the only real decent aspect to this is the senseless violence that runs through this entire run time. Speaking of run time; this is an extremely short film at a whopping 85 minutes! Always keep in mind that when a movie says its run time the credits are included. This means that with an average credit time length of about 5 minutes, this movie is maybe 80 minutes long. It’s over before it starts.
This is a very less creepy version of The Strangers with a lot more violence. I guess you could argue that the pointlessness of the story and the mindless violence it contains is a reflection on the pointless violence that people take part in every day in real life. I can see that, but is it so wrong to want a little more character work? Make the audience feel something for these characters and THEN kill them all brutally. That would have made for a much better film. Is the movie terrible? No. Is it great? Hell no. It’s just… okay. And if that’s okay with you then go ahead and see The Purge. I might watch it again, maybe I will enjoy it more knowing what to expect. I just wanted to add that when the beginning credits have some of the more disturbing moments in the film, there’s a problem. The start of the film shows some “Purge security footage” showcasing what it’s like. The thing is, some of the footage isn’t staged for the film; it’s real murder and humanity in all its ugliness. I don’t know how or why but you can just tell the difference between fake and real, even when the footage is grainy. If there is one thing this film achieves it shows the true nature of human beings; we are a violent, inhumane species and that can be a hard thing to watch.
Rated R for: strong disturbing violence and some language
Run time: 85 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield
Directed By: James DeMonaco
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3/ Visuals: 2.5
OVERALL: 2.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below: