Although The Purge, written/directed by James Demonaco, had a concept that gave me shivers, the hype was unfortunately was not worthy of the film. The Purge is set in the USA in 2022, when an annual ‘purge’ ceremony takes place. This ‘purge’ is a 12-hour crime-spree when all crime is made legal, including murder. Naturally, the film focuses on one seemingly safe and secure family who hopes to make it through the purge alive. You can imagine how a film with such an incredible story would hold such immense expectation. Despite the great concept, the film fell horribly flat and did not do its trailer any justice.
The Sandin family, who sell security for protection during the purge, live in an upscale house in a wealthy neighborhood. Though they expect that their beautiful neighborhood will remain relatively calm despite the insanity of the purge, the story twists when the youngest Sandin lets in a bleeding straggler. His attackers, knowing the Sandins are harboring their desired victim, give the Sandins an ultimatum, threatening that they’ll kill everyone if their victim isn’t released. Obviously nothing goes as planned, and hell breaks loose and the chaos that comes about, which has the potential for a great thriller/horror film, is underwhelming.
It wasn’t necessarily poor directing, acting, or any of those issues that stood out to me as unforgivable, but instead it was the terribly written script. The plot is sporadic and, at times, completely strange in that characters make choices that seem moronic and random. The psychotic killers are about as scary as a spider (only if you’re not afraid of spiders though) and they turn out to be a bunch of teenagers with way too much time, freedom, and a plethora of lame masks.
There are times when the writing of The Purge is pretty well-done, and the thrill of the film lasts through those moments, but on a whole the film just didn’t have that intensity that it should have had. It was definitely great how the story has a distinct point about the dangers of life without laws and repercussions, and whether or not you agree, its great that a film actually depicts a point. But unfortunately, the concept of the annual purge itself isn’t explained all that well, which doesn’t help the fact that the characters are so pro-purge when they themselves abstain from it. Mostly, the film blandly illustrates everyone’s worst nightmare, when it could have brilliantly depicted a story with much more depth, character development, and dialogue.
If you’re rushing out to see The Purge after seeing its kickass trailer, don’t. Instead, rewatch the trailer, and stay happy with the thought that it is an awesome concept. Don’t let the movie ruin it for you. If you’re okay with a potential disappointment and some minor thrills, then see the film. I’m personally hoping they make a second one with better everything; the concept has too much potential to pass up.