The Purge (2013)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Rhys Wakefield
Directed by: James DeMonaco
In 2022, the United States has now sanctioned murder legal for 12 hours out of the year. No police. No firefighters. No ambulances. Are your doors locked?
The First Stitches
The movie opens with scene after scene of chaos through the eyes of various security cameras. Video evidence of past Purges. The scene then cuts to security system salesman, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), reassuring a client they've purchased the best system, the same system he uses. Eventually, he makes it home as his wife is preparing dinner. Shortly into the meal they realize it's almost time for The Purge to commence. They arm the security system and are ready to wait out the chaos until young Charlie (Max Burkholder) notices a wounded man (Edwin Hodge) running through the streets screaming for help. Before anyone realizes he disarms the system and calls to the man, offering a safe haven. After the system is rearmed, a group of Purgers emerge from the shadows.
Led by a rather personable psycho (Rhys Wakefield), the Sandins are informed the man they are harboring is one of their targets that fought back and killed one of their own. They are given a short timeframe to present the man, alive, or noone is safe.
Mending the SeamsPlot: The thing I like about The Purge is thinking "what if this really happened"? As the security footage plays in the beginning, it give a bit of depth to the situation as it feels a bit more real. From there, unfortunately, it becomes pretty predictable. Based on the dialogue of the film, you can pretty much tell who's dangerous and who's not. There's really not much of a twist in that regard until towards the end...but even then, everything is predictable due to a conversation between Mary (Lena Headey) and a neighbor.
Characters: I honestly wasn't very motivated by many of the characters in this movie. I did enjoy Edwin Hodge's character as his performance was pretty believable. He was a cornered fox who needed to do what he could to survive. Overall, the best characters were the Target, James Sandin and the charismatic stranger, who ultimately took the top spot for me. Honorable mention for Lena Headey for being hot in an upper class suburban mom sort of way.
Setting/Atmosphere: My complaint about the atmosphere of this movie is that it really wasn't scary or all that tense, and part of that is because of the aforementioned predictability. With the almost inescapable darkness that takes over the movie part way, I was expecting more intensity in the scenes following, but more so it equated to some kill-happy psychos turning the movie into a big game of "Look out behind you, jackass!!"
Special Effects: Not surprisingly, this was one of the best parts of the movie (produced by Michael Bay...surprise!) and even that doesn't say all that much considering the most you get in visual effects are some gunshots and a lot of broken windows.
Music/Audio: Those gunshots and broken windows I mentioned just now pretty much make up the majority of the sound effects in this film. Other than that, the soundtrack wasn't bad at all.
The Binding Stitch
Being the first horror I've seen in a theatre in quite some time, I was hoping for something much better. Especially considering the trailer for this film really sells it. The sad truth is while the premise for The Purge is really very tight, the film itself falls apart easily due to poorly written characters and overall poor writing. The few saving graces were easily the main antagonist and an ending that was bittersweet as well as humourous. This movie had a lot of potential, but sadly I feel it fell flat and was not worth the price of admission. Perhaps at a later time (I won't be paying full blu-ray/dvd price for this, neither should you) when there is a price drop on this title, I could suggest it as a movie to add to a themed horror marathon (Intruders, chaos, etc), but as it stands, this one wasn't really worth it, except for the villain.