Plot: James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is well prepared for the annual purge, with plans to lock down his home and perhaps watch some purge events on television. As the murder, rape, torture, and other violence unfolds in the streets, a lot of rich families like the Sandins can be at peace, well protected by expensive security systems. But this year’s purge doesn’t turn out as smoothly as Sandin hoped, starting with his daughter’s boyfriend sneaking into the house. He plans to confront James about forbidding him to see his daughter, which given the purge situation, could turn violent, especially with guns involved. Soon the household erupts into chaos, when James’ son opens the door for a wounded man in need of help. As if a strange man lurking in the house wasn’t enough, it turns out he was the prey of some rich purge participants, ones who aren’t pleased the Sandins gave the man shelter. Now unless the man is pushed back outside, these eerie purgers will do whatever they have to in order to get inside, which means James and his family will become targets as well.
Entertainment Value: The premise of The Purge is excellent, one night per year when you can let loose all the pent up hatred, violence, and hostility, with almost no laws and no repercussions. This is horror movie gold, but this movie opts for a safe, rather bland approach to this grand spectacle. The Purge takes place within a home, with only a few brief visits to the outside world, mostly by looking through windows or various cameras spying on the action. This choice was obviously budget related, but it is still tough to swallow, given all the potential of the concept. But even so, we end up with a capable thriller and some fun home invasion elements. The narrative deals with family issues until the freaks arrive, then things take a more horror slanted approach, with a lot more tension and dread. Up to that point however, the movie is on the slow side and isn’t much fun to watch. The freaks are a great inclusion though, adding the creepiness and impending doom, then some other twists toward the finale put a nice, dark finish on the festivities. The cast is fine, but no one really stands out besides the freaks, who are memorable for their eerie masks and strange skipping/dancing girls. So while The Purge fails to make good use of an excellent premise, it does provide solid, if mostly middling entertainment.
No nakedness. I would have loved an erotic love scene between the freak girls, but that fantasy was denied. Just some kissy face between our teen lovers, so don’t get your hopes up in this area. The movie has frequent violence, but as you’d expect from Blumhouse, almost all the gore is CGI and looks jank. I don’t know if Blumhouse just hates practical effects or what, but they seem to embrace low end CGI and The Purge is yet another monument to that love. I still think some of the scenes pack a nice punch, such as when Mr. Sandin battles the freaks and the finale opens up into minor chaos, but the CGI is a distraction and really breaks up the mood. So there is a good amount of blood, but well, you know how CGI is. The dialogue is serious in tone and mostly forgettable, though the head freak is a creepy presence. His calm demeanor is a great contrast to the sudden violence outside, even if he isn’t given many good lines. The veiled contempt between neighbors offer some fun social strain, however. The premise is insane, but the movie reels it in and keeps things grounded. Not what we like to hear, so aside from the freaks, no real points to notch here.
Overall Insanity: 1/10