One night, twelve straight hours where no emergency services, and all crime is legal. What a premise. I’ve grown tired of recent horror flicks; barely any have original or interesting plots anymore. But as good as the premise is, was The Purge executed well?
I’ve found for me personally, what can make or break a horror film are the characters and how they react and take action to the events surrounding them.
Now let me tell you, Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight) did great as James Sadin. He was cocky, he boasts about his achievements, but he also cares deeply about his family. He will do anything to protect his family from harm, and let me tell you, I was rooting for him the entire time. The villain of the film, Polite Stranger, played by Rhys Wakefield (Sanctum), was menacing. Now Polite Stranger wouldn’t be in anyone’s list of top movie villains, nor should he be. But there was a coolness to his character that I enjoyed.
The rest of the main characters, I had huge issues with. James Sadin’s wife, Mary, played by Lena Headey (300), was a typical unrealistic mother which horror films are plagued with. None of her emotions felt real. Their daughter, Zoey, played by Adelaide Kane (Reign), was your typical teenage girl. Boy issues, not wanting to listen to her dad, the whole works. However we did see a moment of courage in her at one point of the film, but that didn’t make up for her problems.
Charlie, James and Mary’s son, played by Max Burkholder (Parenthood), did have a few redeeming qualities. Early on he was quirky and different from how the majority of teenage boys are portrayed. However, he didn’t care about his family whatsoever. I felt as if he was out to get them. The way Charlie acted was so unrealistic it wasn’t even funny.
The world The Purge takes place in is great. It opens up a lot of sick, disgusting opportunities for a skilled screenwriter. But does this movie explore the world The Purge exists in? No. The majority of the film takes place in the Sadin’s family home, which is a total waste of potential.
I have a strange feeling this was more of a budget issue than a creative decision. With such an interesting premise, wouldn’t the creative team want to explore the events of The Purge? With only three million dollars to play with, the team who put together this movie must have been limited to shooting primarily in a single household.
The director and screenwriter of this film, James DeMonaco (The Negotiator), inserted a political message into The Purge. With this movie, he was commenting on societies violent nature as of late. His message may get people discussing violence and gun control or it may just get lost in the wind. James seemed to want to make a huge moral statement. Too bad he didn’t focus more on the quality of his film.
I was hopeful that this movie may turn out to be good, and that my expectations set by the spectacular premise may be met. But they weren’t. However I was glad that this film was made. With the budget being three million dollars, and Universal Studio’s take from the box office eighty-nine million dollars and some change, I’m hoping this may pave the way for production studios to pick up smaller budget films.
The sequel to The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, came out this past weekend, on July 18th. So far the sequel looks like everything everyone wanted The Purge to be. The Purge is your average home invasion thriller, surrounded by many typically incompetent characters.
Director: James DeMonaco
Screenplay: James DeMonacoc
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Rhys Wakefield