Directed By: James DeMonaco
Written By: James DeMonaco
This isn’t a movie I love or even particularly like but I do think it is a cool idea. My brother is so taken with the movie that I feel compelled to keep giving it chances. This movie, like Crazy, Stupid, Love, made its way into the collection on that same Amazon shopping spree night when I bought several DVDs absentmindedly. The Purge itself is an idea worth making a film about but I find so much about this movie to be just too typical. I don’t think “The Annual Purge” really is or would be cool either.
In a nutshell an annual purge would allow a lot of unsavory criminal elements to simply wipe themselves out but the truth is it would never go that way. As we see in the movie you would have plenty of people from all walks of life taking part but what about the people who aren’t just out there to unleash the beast in the form of murder? How many men just go back to their daily lives after an evening of carte blanche in sex crimes? What I fear is that on an actual evening of purging that getting murdered would be one of the easiest things to be victimized by. What’s worse are all the nightmares people actually survive and the hell you have to go through life remembering. People are sick and demented, give them 12 hours every year to show their wild side and we would see things most of us never could have imagined.
I feel like the shock value in this movie is too intentional and poorly executed. I like the evil rich kid who comes knocking on their door but that’s about as far as it goes. Rhys Wakefield, who plays the Polite Stranger, is wicked and intimidating from beginning to end. However, while I think he is really well written and delivers a great performance he is alone in that category. I think the girls dual wielding machetes and axes are a bit silly. An ax is a heavy and cumbersome weapon; it’s just ridiculous for this college girl to be swinging it with ease and precision as a man fires a shotgun at her. Not to mention I feel like it is an obvious effort to recreate the Manson murders as so many films do, like The Strangers. I can buy girls getting in on unleashing the beast but when they are dancing around and being so cutesy about killing it’s just overkill.
I feel like everything that happens in the movie is just too typical too. The innocent son feels sorry for the hobo in the street pleading for his life so he lets him inside like an idiot. The daughter has an older boyfriend who she obviously isn’t mature enough to understand and he tries to kill her dad. The neighbors aren’t there to help but to purge. It’s all just too typical and doesn’t really impress me. Maybe if the actors were better or the story was tweaked a bit it might have worked but I just don’t buy these cookie cutter suburban people feeling the need to butcher one of their neighbors and her children. I get it if they just really want to kill Ethan Hawke, but when they pull out knives to stab his children to death in his place I feel like it’s just too much. I can see the suburban type wanting to kill the man who profited off this chaos but I just don’t want to think people become child murderers so easily. Not to mention the knives, killing isn’t an easy thing and I don’t think people unaccustomed to it would chose such a personal and hands on way to murder when they are packing guns.
I think there were merits to the story that involved how The Purge is simply a tool to counteract poverty and cleanse society of the beatniks but this movie glosses over them too much. So much so that they immediately made a sequel to go farther with it. The sequel was equally as rushed in an effort to make money though and probably falls short in similar ways. I do think the sequel to this movie is better than this one, but that’s not to say it couldn’t have been better if more time and effort was put into it.
I think this is at least the fourth time I have tried to get into this movie and again it fails to inspire anything more than a shrug. I can get the appeal but I feel like it’s a story I’ve just seen too many times already. The only thing that makes this movie any different from any other Manson family murder knockoff is the pseudo half assed effort to introduce a political aspect to the mayhem created. If you haven’t seen half a dozen movies already where people are victimized by senseless killing from unreasonably persevering bad guys then maybe you will love this. I just don’t find anything exceptional about it. However, with a cool running time of less than an hour and half, I’ll leave it up to you whether or not it is actually worth your time.
NEXT MOVIE: Quills (2000)