“Decriminalised Murder. An outlet for American Rage.”
The Purge is a slasher/horror film I’d been looking forward to since reading about it a few weeks ago, the concept was new a fresh and the trailer made it seem exciting. Far off from being a ‘great’ horror/slasher film it is in a way iconic and starts to somewhat mark a shift perhaps towards a new direction of horror film that has been bulked up the last 5-6 years by ghosts opening doors slowly in Paranormal Activity and Demons running riot in possession-based films… Now I’m not slamming these by a long shot as when they are done well they are great to watch but on the whole the real mainstream francises that keep getting made are feeling less and less scary, unless you are 12 perhaps. I would put The Purge alongside Sinister as a bit of a game-changer but perhaps that is just because I really like it.
The main terror in this film where for one night a year all crime is legalised to release hatred from the people of America come from the group of college students dressed with masks and suits, the main guy played by ex-soap actor Rhys Wakefield and gives a disturbing and fresh face to terror in a very real way that makes you shudder and reminded me of Harry Lloyd, responsible of creating the strange persona of Baines in Doctor Who serial ‘The Family of Blood’.
The only things that gets to me in the script of the film is how everything is sign-posted VERY early on and within the first 10-15 minutes I was pretty much able to guess the outcome of the entire film with the two twists of *look away for spoilers* the jealous family wanting to kill the well-off main characters because they are richer and then the black guy who the family saved, then decided to kill, then decided again to let him live save the family from death at the last possible moment. Nonetheless, it was compelling to watch even if it is strange how he was able to somehow get loose from being tied up, arm himself and save them without anyone seeing him.
I’m not sure however why the son, played by ‘an idiot’ was never punished for being such a goon in the first place and made this whole thing happen that eventually even killed his dad. In that last shot he looks out onto the street and doesn’t even look sad, his sister too lost not only her dad but a boyfriend and seems so normal it becomes one of the creepiest things about the film. As I said, nowhere near perfect but a true basis to build from into a slasher series with a fresh face. The trouble is, with a sequel in the pipeline they will have to find something rather terrorising to replace Rhys Wakefield’s eeriness that echoed throughout this horror and that could be a tough act in itself.
It’s the morality issue that plays beneath the film that makes us care about the Sandin Family – and about The Purge – because in the darkest corners of this survival story, the only monsters are the men and women who go out and Purge when perhaps if ‘The Purge’ 12-Hour didn’t exist they wouldn’t be. It’s the normality of the people doing it that makes it become some sort of Halloween night, a night of fun rather than terror.
For a follow-up I think it would be cool to maybe see something push the ideas onto a larger scale, a town rather than a house the post credits radio coverage talks about the ‘biggest purging ever’ in Texas where people ‘lined the streets’… nice imagery to set up a sequel perhaps… Eventually this could lead into some sort of meltdown of the rules where The Purge ends up getting extended to a day, or a week to make it seem like crime rates are on a low when in reality the deadly reality is it’s more than it was before but ‘contained’.