Director: James DeMonaco Screenwriter: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield.
Plot: It is 2022 and America is a better place, crime is down and everyone is happy. This is because once a year, the Government allows residents to partake in the Purge, 12 hours where anyone can do whatever they want without the fear of prosecution. Including murder. The Sandin family, who refuse to take part, sit at home watching the Purge on their TV and on their CCTV monitors. Things spiral out of control when young Charlie Sandin lets in a distressed stranger.....
Review: Cast your minds back a few months when the trailers for The Purge hit the interwebs and the general consensus that the premise is so dumb? Well, the film has been and gone so now it is time to assess it and consider whether the premise is still dumb or not? The answer is- of course it bloody is, it's a stupid idea for a film. Does The Purge pull it off? No, not quite, it tries to have it both ways. It tries to have a premise that is slightly futuristic but sets it only 9 years from now. I know the world isn't perfect but this is going overboard. Anyway, to the film itself, it is slight and despite what it promises, very little actually happens. The problem is the setting, despite the fact that the idea of the Purge is stupid, it is still quite an intriguing idea in a b-movie sort of way. There is potential for some scares and violence here but instead we get a slightly limp home invasion movie. There are things to like, though, the protagonists wear freaky masks and with the exception of the leader, do so throughout which adds a nice air of creepiness but it's never quite scary enough.
Performance-wise, Edwin Hodge plays intimidating while scared for his life well and Rhys Wakefield creepily grins his way throughout the film as the chief bad guy but the rest are pretty forgettable. Even the usually reliable Headey has the thankless role of the scared wife and very rarely shows the toughness we've seen from her elsewhere. Ethan Hawke (returning for DeMonaco who wrote the remake of Assault on Precinct 13 remake Hawke starred in) plays practically the same role we've seen from him before but this time, the dialogue just isn't good enough for what he does.
Conclusion: The Purge thinks it is far more clever than it actually is and despite its premise it doesn't really say anything. Despite my gripes, I don't hate the film, it passed some time and its success means we're getting a sequel. Maybe they'll do better next time?