My good friend and podcast partner, Scott Martin, decided to sacrifice his well-being and step in to do a film review of the latest horror picture, The Purge. Here is his take on a film that has done surprisingly well in the box office.
If you have seen the trailer for The Purge, you have a good idea of the concept behind the latest film from
Blumhouse Productions. If you are not aware of Blumhouse Productions (the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious), there are two key pieces of relevant information about them. First, they are masters at making low budget, high grossing movies. Second, they are masters at repackaging the same concept and tricking audiences
into spending their money.
I will not spend time going into the depths of their formula and talking about all the similarities that flow between their movies, as The Purge is at least moderately successful in being different from their other films. The concept behind the movie is the most gripping aspect, as it tells the story of America in the near future. It is a country with minimal crime, almost no unemployment, and it is all thanks to one night a year when crime is legal for 12 hours and people can purge the evil they have inside of them.
Normally in a Blumhouse movie, the protagonists are rich Caucasian suburban yuppies who live in a large house and are not very relatable to the average movie goer. This movie is fresh in the fact that it is important that the protagonist family, the Sandins, are affluent people. As the time of the purge approaches, they are completely relaxed as there is no reason for them to fear. Not only is their house fortified, but the father James (Ethan Hawke) sells advanced security systems, so you know the Sandins have spared no expense. When it is time, they calmly hunker down to wait the night out.
It is not too long into the night when the son Charlie (Max Burkholder) views the security monitors and sees a man on the street who is being hunted by people who intend to kill him. Charlie then decides to deactivate the security system, opens the door, and ushers this unknown man inside to offer him sanctuary. It is then that the villains arrive to claim the life of the person who the Sandins have inside their house. It is now decision time for the Sandins… deliver this stranger to the people outside who will kill him, or protect the man and have baddies on
the lawn break in and kill everyone in the house.
As the movie plays out, it does so in typical Blumhouse horror style, in that you can very easily predict when all the scares will be, and what the next scene will bring. The characters are fairly one dimensional, but are not as mind numbingly bland and stupid as they are in Blumhouse movies past. As the night of the purge moves on, the members of the family are left to make decisions about morality, and as they do, it is the overall concept of the movie that can leave one feeling a bit uneasy.
One major failing of Blumhouse Productions that is quite present in The Purge is lame baddies. The villains in this movie are meant to be portrayed in a creepy, massively psychotic way, but it ends up seeming comical and unrealistic that someone would actually act this way. But, that is not what they worry about, as they want the baddies to act in ways that unnerve you, not in ways that would actually make sense to the situation. A large portion of the teenage girls in the theatre could not stop laughing at the ‘tense’ scenes with the baddies, so one might
deduce that the attempt failed.
In all, it was the concept, mediocre characters, decent acting, a few unpredictable key scenes and gripping ‘reality footage’ of events of the purge that made this movie salvageable. If you are a fan of all things horror, you will not find anything worthy of spending your money on here. However, if you are intrigued by the concept, the trailers look
decent to you, and you have not seen a lot of horrors, then this movie may be worth a cheap night movie ticket. As for me, I wish I waited until it was on Netflix.