The Purge takes place in the near future where the government allows 12 hours of any kind of criminal activity with no repercussions. During the movie, we follow Purge night of the wealthy Sandin family, who normally waits out the Purge in their fortified, locked down, enormous home.
I emphasize enormous because the number of times people disappeared in the house, when they weren’t even actively hiding, was simply ludicrous.
Anyway… the underlying “one to grow on” theme is that privilege can be taken too far. The end result of the purge is lower unemployment and lower crime, but at what cost? Can we lose our humanity for a night and still expect to regain it come morning? And if you are better able to afford the tools to keep yourself safe, does that necessarily mean you’re a better person to survive Purge night?
The implication is, of course, that the lower crime and unemployment are a result of the poor and criminal elements of society killing themselves off during Purge, and it’s simply a case of few numbers means these problems go away.
The problem for the Sandin family begins when one of those lower class elements – who is also a former soldier, in case the moral dilemma is unclear – gets chased into the Sandin’s neighborhood, looking for help or sanctuary from the Purge. Which is when things take a downward spiral.
So, what did I think?
The Purge is something I call a concept film. High or not, someone says “wouldn’t this be a great idea for a movie?” and they go ahead full steam to create it, without fleshing out the concept further or addressing issues that don’t make sense.
There were a number of issues that didn’t make sense to me, but because it was a concept film, it felt a lot like this:
“But how do you explain X? Why would X even happen?”
“The Purge is so cool. Terrifying but cool. Look, see? Don’t worry about X.”
“Doesn’t Y mean that…”
“No, no, look at the shiny… The Purge is so cool.”
Basically, they spent far too much time explaining the concept of the Purge without explaining how any of the supporting elements could possibly work (and I’m thinking in terms of infrastructure, government, and human nature), which resulted in a rather slow paced movie with a few periodic hot spots of activity, and left a lot of questions in my mind. Questions that I don’t think had any answers. The characters also displayed a lot of the obligatory horror movie idiocy, which was sad.
Ultiimately, I wasn’t too impressed, but there were some good bits. The psycho villain is fantastically creepy. He was excellent. And the concept was interesting, but if they’d spent more time fleshing out the concept, it could have not only been an excellent psychological thriller but an insightful social commentary, which is what sci-fi classics are made of. Unfortunately, they leaned too much to the horror elements, leading to a forgettable, regrettable film.