America's third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, comes to power and conducts an experiment: no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one has to stay on the island, but $5,000 is given to anyone who does.
Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, the man known as Jigsaw, who has been dead for over 10 years.
Callum Keith Rennie
In an America wracked by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity-including murder-becomes legal. The police can't be called. Hospitals suspend help. It's one night when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this night plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking. When an intruder breaks into James Sandin's (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear a family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.Written by
I may be a little bit biased in this review, because I am a horror nut who has a passion for the home invasion sub-genre. I find these films very tense, involving and thought-provoking because it could happen to anyone. Yes, it could happen to YOU! So when I saw the trailer for The Purge which seemingly burst out of nowhere I was incredibly excited! Firstly, the concept is highly original and very interesting. It's an idea I've never come across before. People have expressed concern about the annual purge just being a set-up for a home invasion movie, but the idea is extremely relevant throughout and serves to make the film even for thought-provoking. Whilst the idea, if it were really carried out, is totally bonkers and dumb, the film convincingly shows it as a good and helpful tool in helping the country that God really loves!
People have also expressed concern about the film showing no other purge-related events outside the Sandlin family's attack. Well here I'm going to have to disappoint you, because apart from some CCTV footage for the opening credits to play over, you don't get to see very much else at all. However, I am actually very for this decision because it makes the film much more focused and makes the audience involved with the characters, so when the attack finally does arrive, it makes everything that much more intense. It's very hard to balance a film if its concentrated in several areas, and I think it would've been a bit messy. Sorry if you wanted to see more purge action though. Perhaps they will in the sequel.
The lead up to the purge is done brilliantly. There's a great sense of anticipation and fear as we wait for the sirens to commence the purge. I also liked the emergency broadcast, which played out rather realistically. In fact, once the purge begins the film doesn't really stop being a tense and marvellously entertaining thrill ride. Some people say that the film isn't horror because they use guns. I'm sure if they didn't use guns people would be moaning about how it wasn't realistic because they didn't use guns! OK I admit guns were over-used because the horror hound inside me would've preferred some more decapitations with the axe and machete, but do not worry because they are still there! The film first and foremost is horror. You can't deny the creepiness of when the masked folk arrive, along with Rhys Wakefield's 'Polite Stranger'.
Also, the masks themselves are brilliant! They have a creepy Strangers-esque vibe to them, and certainly set the horror tone. I've never seen or heard of Rhys Wakefield in anything else before, but the former Home and Away actor puts on an extraordinarily creepy performance, evoking Michael Pitt from Funny Games US. He has a seriously scary smirk that reminded me of Heath Ledger's legendary Joker. Rhys Wakefield could've made an even more memorable villain if he was in it more. Although, he completely stole all of the scenes he was in, I would've loved to have seen him play a bigger role with more screen time.
The film isn't shy of throwing up moral dilemmas. It had my brain jogging about what I would in the situation, and we see a lot of interestingly dislikeable sides to Ethan Hawke's smug security expert, which isn't even strong enough to protect his own house! The final 30 minutes or so are incredibly entertaining. It's never short of a tense thrill and there is also one stand-out fight sequence that put a sadistic smile on my face (don't worry, I'm quite normal really). A nice surprising twist tops everything off and by the end of it you really do feel like you've been through quite an ordeal.
The Purge offers a creepy, thrilling and innovative slice of home invasion. Whilst obviously not as amazing as Inside, or even Funny Games and the remake of Mother's Day, I think I enjoyed it more than The Strangers and to compare it to a more recent horror film, I liked it about as much (or maybe ever so slightly less) than Evil Dead. The Purge certainly doesn't deserve the knocks it has been getting from a lot of people. I do think it could've been longer as I couldn't get enough of the action-packed finale, which surely isn't a bad thing is it? I enjoyed it a lot and I think a lot of horror fans are going to enjoy it too. It's an under-valued film with a fantastically original concept, which deserves more views!
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