The Purge

Nine years into the future, America has emerged from an unnamed and yet-to-happen calamity. It’s reborn with a seemingly God-fearing public and almost no crime to speak of. Except for one night a year,  with”The Purge,” when it’s open season on anyone not wealthy or strong enough to protect themselves. But look on the bright side: Unemployment is only at 1 percent!

The Players:

  •  Writer and Director: James DeMonaco
  •  Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane
  •  Cinematography: Jacques Jouffret
  • Original Music by: Nathan Whitehead

The Plot:

It’s the night of the annual Purge, where America descends into chaos, with any crime — including murder — being legal for a 12-hour period. Home security system salesman and father James Sandin (Hawke) plans to wait it out behind his barricade with his wife (Headey) and kids (Bukholder, Kane). But between his daughter’s pesky boyfriend, his son’s tendency to value human life,plus an on-the-run homeless man, there’s no way the night’s going smoothly.

The Good:

  • High concept: It’s an interesting idea, this Purge, especially given the chilling mundanity with which it’s presented in the film. What’s even more interesting is the idea that it’s actually a means for society to clear out the undesirables. Anyone not wealthy or strong enough to defend themselves winds up dead. Class warfare, get it?
  • Scare tactics: DeMonaco manages to rustle up some genuine scares throughout the film’s brief running time. A seemingly normal suburban home under siege by smiley murderers is a great set up for shocking moments.

The Bad:

  • What’s your rush? After more fuss than necessary getting the Sandins into lockdown and establishing their family dynamic, you’d think DeMonaco would want to have some fun with the lethal cat-and-mouse game. But no, apparently someone’s in a hurry, as the last third of the movie whips by at an unsatisfying pace.
  • Not too tech-savvy: I’m guessing whatever disaster necessitated America’s “rebirth” also negatively impacted technological advancement. The phones, cameras, cars, and even guns look about the same as they do now. Come on, nine years is a long time when it comes to cell phone design evolution. Which begs the question, why bother setting it in the near future at all? Why not just make it, “What would it be like if this were happening now?”
  • What’s the point? The clever and thought-provoking concept of The Purge isn’t given nearly the amount of discussion it deserves. It leads to an incredibly underwhelming experience for the viewers. Unless the point is to make us examine how much we enjoy the graphic kills on display here. In that case the filmmakers are being far too subtle and sophisticated for their medium. Also, the rules of the game for dystopian films is that by the end we get concrete proof someone’s going to try to change the world for the better and end the nightmare. Not to give too much away, but The Purge doesn’t seem too concerned with that.


The Purge takes an interesting concept and does nothing interesting with it. Don’t let it in.

The Rating: 4/10

The Purge opens in theaters June 7.

Photo Gallery:


Will you be seeing The Purge this weekend?