THE PURGE (2013)

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MARCH 10, 2014

I didn’t see THE PURGE in the theaters because something about the premise rubbed me the wrong way. It sounded clever, but based on the trailers, the movie looked like yet another flimsy excuse for a home invasion flick. 


Now that it’s on cable and I can watch it for free, I decided to at least give it a chance. The film’s in the zeitgeist and I wanted to watch it to have an actual opinion. 


Well, here’s my opinion: I wish I didn’t watch it. 


I have come to expect a certain quality of story telling from the films of producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, INSIDIOUS and SINISTER are some of the better horror films in recent years. Blum seems to care about the genre and his films are made to truly entertain. 


With that said, I found THE PURGE to be one of the most frustrating film going experiences for its complete lack of story and character logic. When I wasn’t squirming in my seat out of sheer annoyance, I was yelling at the screen in anger. 


For those unfamiliar with the plot, it’s the year 2022 and in an effort to eradicate violent crime, the government has deemed that one day (actually 12 hours) during the year you can choose to commit any crime including murder with full immunity. This is designed to “purge” violent tendencies that have been building up over the past year. 


James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) sells home security systems. Along with his wife (Lena Headey) and their two kids Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder), they decide to sit the Purge out in the comfort of their very comfortable home. They’re über-rich. 


When Charlie makes a decision that will alter the course of their lives forever, they must defend their home from invaders bent on getting inside and killing all of them. 


There are definitely some interesting concepts and themes to be dealt with within this material, but even when they are presented, they are handled so sloppily that they get lost in the shuffle along with any sense of entertainment. 


Almost none of the character motivations make any sense and defy any and all logic to the point where I could care less if any of them made it out alive. The film also has a complete lack of tension, as we are never given a good sense of the layout of the house, so we have no idea where the characters are in relation to each other and the villains. 


On top of that, there’s no ticking time clock. The Purge lasts for 12 hours, yet other than seeing it start at 7pm, we never see another clock…EVER. So we never have a grasp of how much time they need to hold out for. 


We also are completely unaware of how many of the home invaders there are, so there is no victory when any of them die because we don’t know if that’s the last one or not. 


Another inexplicable thing that may be expecting too much from a logic standpoint, is that you’d think that somebody who sells high-end security systems and knows that there is even a small chance that it could be breached in a worst case scenario, would have also built a “panic room” in their mansion-sized house just in case. Or at the very least a room that could be locked down and easily defended. 


Uggghhhhh… I could go on for hours about this. 


Thanks for letting me purge my irritation. We’ll pick this up next year when THE PURGE: ANARCHY (yes, they already made the sequel) airs on free cable.