The Purge review

Director:
James DeMonaco
Cast:
Ethan Hawke
Lena Headey
Max Burkholder
Adelaide Kane
Edwin Hodge
Rhys Wakefield
Rated: R

“The Purge,” aka the hardcore version of “Home Alone.”

“The Purge” takes place in the year 2022. The United States has become a utopia, the economy is booming, crime is at an all time low, unemployment is at 1 percent and dogs and cats get along. This is all because for one 12 hour period every year, the government suspends all emergency services and allows all crime. This lets people to purge all of their hatred and get it out of their system.

The film follows the Sandins, a wealthy family of four with the dad named James (Hawke) who sells home protection services. On the night of the purge, the Sandins lock down their entire home while chaos is going on outside. Everything seems to be running smoothly until a man (Wakefield) running down the street comes along yelling for help. It turns out that he is a target for a group purgers who is trying to escape. The son in the Sandins named Charlie (Burkholder) feels bad for the guy and decides to let him in to the house.

This causes the group of purgers who were after him to start targeting the Sandins too. Now the Sandins have to worry about the man in the house as well as the purgers trying to get in.

The premise of “The Purge” is tough to believe but at the beginning it introduces it well enough. The film is obviously trying to put across some social commentary which is all fine and good and the movie works well enough for a while. That is until the movie becomes generic and the characters, especially the younger ones, become horribly annoying. The decisions the characters make in this movie are so annoying that it made me want to pull my hair out.

Starting off, the son is by far the worst offender in this flick. His decision to let this random guy into the house who could have possibly been a psycho murderer was so damn stupid and that decision stuck with me through the entire movie, all I kept thinking was “it’s all that kid’s fault.” What’s worse is he never does anything to really redeem himself either.

I realize what they were trying to do with the movie as the kid was there to question the idea of the purge and the morality of it all. But it could have been written in a way that didn’t make the kid look so stupid and still get the message across. For example, if there had been a glitch in the security and that allowed the stranger to enter the home, and the kid starts to see the way the people are wanting to kill him just because it’s the purge and from that he could realize how bad it all is.

The other young person in the family, the daughter named Zoey played by Adelaide Kane, was also annoying. The character made the most insane and idiotic decisions someone could make in the situations she was in. For example, she decides to go and hide in a closet instead of a room with a bunch of monitors and equipment where the family more than likely is.

I can handle young characters in thrillers or horrors making mistakes that could cause trouble. Take the scene in Jurassic Park where the jeeps are getting attacked by the T-Rex.

Sure the kids accidentally turn on the flash light, but it was more of an honest mistake where they had no idea what was really going on. In this movie, the kids know all about the purge and they know where the main safe room is and yet they still make horrible decisions that puts them more into danger than before.

To the film’s credit, there are some performances in here that are alright. Ethan Hawke makes another appearance in a horror/thriller here following 2012’s “Sinister,” and he does a pretty good job. Hawke is an actor who can make a character relatable and likable which really helps in a movie like this. It was easy to root for Hawke’s character and it was just too bad that most of his family was annoying and stupid.

The main villain in the film is played by Rhys Wakefield, and he really pulls it off nicely. Wakefield brings this sort of polite and yet menacing performance to the film and it does help to build the tension up. It would have been nice if the rest of the purgers from his group would have been more like him and not act in a way to say “hey, look at us, we are so crazy.”

Once the tension starts and things get rolling in the third act, the film does pick itself up a bit. There are predictable moments, however, even those moments become thrilling to watch. One scene in particular is where Ethan Hawke steps up to defend his family. The ending was also good and had a chilling atmosphere along with it.

I think that “The Purge” could have been a lot better if they had tightened things up and made the characters a bit smarter and more likable. I get that in horror films people make bad decisions but this movie goes a little too far, and honestly, those stupid decisions could have been totally avoided and they could have still had all their commentary go on and the plot would have still worked fine.

Unfortunately, I just ended up being so annoyed that I couldn’t root for these characters (with the exception of Hawke) and that took me out of the movie and that really hurts it when the film already has such a far fetched premise. Some of the acting is pretty good and there are actual solid thrilling moments of tension. But for the most part this is just a generic home invasion movie with characters who I didn’t really care about. Maybe they should have showed more of the purge that was going on in like a big city instead of just one family home. Regardless, this one comes in at a low 2 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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