Home is sanctuary. Home is the place we call our own land (unless you rent) and our responsibly to hold up. So I understand now frightening it would feel if somebody decided to trespass into my house and attempts to do god know what in there. I’ve never been burglarized, but I’ve known people that have. A thief broke into a friend of mine’s home and didn’t just take some things; he also trashed the place and tore up the furniture. This family felt like their solitude of space has been violated and raped; though they had insurance, they never felt safe there again. It was only two months later that they moved out and found another place of solitude. It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the rest.
I originally thought that the person that broke into their home was a criminal or maybe some homeless person. But the guy that was later caught was actually a college student that had succumbed to the stress and took it out on this family. This got me to question whether anyone can become just as bad because of this built in rage. Maybe we need a healthy outlet for our anger. It’s certainly not going to come from any of the ideas in The Purge.
The year is 2022. Based on some new system as stated in the opening credits, “The new Founding Fathers of America have rebuilt a new nation that has low unemployment and almost zero crime”. Their solution that led to this was creating an annual night holiday called The Purge. This twelve-hour event from 9:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. suspends all emergency services and all criminal activity (including murder) becomes legal. The purpose of this night is for all American’s to vent out all their frustrations and let the world suffer as much as they suffer in their daily lives.
The focus here is on a family man named James Sandin (played by Ethan Hawke). He specializes in selling high tech security systems for families that want to completely lock down for their safety. He does the same thing for each Purge by keeping his wife Mary, and his two children Zoey and Charlie, in the almost airtight home where they watch the event on the news. It so happens this year that a homeless man runs into their neighborhood demanding for help. Young Charlie takes sympathy on this guy and allows him to enter. As the family is scrambling to find out what to do with him, a group of college students in masks demands for the release of this bum or they’ll kill everyone.
I’ll say immediately that this movie has a creative premise (though I would imagine that any politician that would really suggest this Purge thing would be committing political suicide). And that this all takes place in an upper class neighborhood with anything from the outside world that was coming from television broadcasts was actually clever. So just how effective is this thriller?
In a way, it does work as I felt the fear that this family was going through as these people kept coming into their home. Everything is in the dark with only a flashlight for sight. But even I kept thinking, “if you’re trying to hide from these maniacs, then TURN OFF THAT DAMN LIGHT!” A lot of the characters make dumb choices, despite the story making it clear that they were intelligent. The worst example comes from the son Charlie who’s apparently a child prodigy, yet he would still let some stranger into the home. For all I would have known, this man could have been lying.
As I kept thinking about this movie, I thought I should hate this movie, until another movie popped into my head, Assault on Precinct 13. This small thriller from the seventies had a similar scenario about people trapped in a space where they can’t call for help, yet a bunch of psychos were waiting to kill them. This wasn’t really trying to question our morals of society or how to act in these situations; it was simply an underground B movie that was trying to be a B-movie. So that made me realize that The Purge was really meant to be taken in as a B-movie. Is it as tense as it wants to be? Yes, though a smarter script could have made it more interesting.
I’ll give this three sets of Purge masks out of five. I really only recommend this to people that are into the underground B-movie culture only. The Purge is not the movie that’s trying to win an Oscar; it wants to be a John Carpenter thriller. It may not always work, it could have been worse.