I’m not sure why I didn’t see the Purge when it came out on 2013. Maybe the trailers made it look like another Killers-With-Bad-Masks movie, which is a sticking point for me that I should discuss some other time. My wife watched it and she liked it and I remember seeing the second Purge movie with her and being entertained. Now that there is a Purge series on USA that I am enjoying, I decided to go give the first movie a try.
The Purge, for those who don’t know, is set in the near-future where a new political party has decided to solve the slow economy, high crime and anything else they can blame by having a special night where all crimes are legal. Police and first response services are suspended so people can murder the hell out of each other. They aren’t allowed to kill government officials, which should be a big tell, but you can go ahead and kill just about anything else.
You know, four years ago, this sounded really silly but now in the era of MAGA and conservatives gleefully justifying locking kids in cages, this feels damn accurate.
The movie centers on a welthy upper-middle class family. There is the dad who sells security systems to the other neighbors and has become quite rich. There is his loving wife, their surly teenage daughter who is mad that they won’t let her date her 18-year old boyfriend and the depressed tween boy who thinks the Purge is creepy and isolates himself by playing with a remote-control robot.
Purge night comes and we see how the media joyfully reports on it, much like they joyfully report almost any great tragedy. We get talking heads who explain the Purge is a healthy thing for letting people blow off steam and we get grim warnings that the country was in such a bad state before the Purge and we can’t ever go back to it.
A black man comes running up the house begging for safety and the parents ignore him. The boy lets him in and a few minutes later, a bunch of killers show up. The killers brag that they are the upper class and killing that homeless guy is their right and damn it, they want their prey back. They are more than willing to kill the family to get to their prey.
Again, this feels really topical. The Purge is just open class warfare. The wealthy can afford protection and weapons and the poor can’t. The killers are the 1% and they wanted to kill some poor people but they will kill some less-rich-than-them as well. Terrible violence is constantly justified and called “American” just like 2nd Amendment nuts always do. We even got good old-fashioned racism with the homeless guy being black.
It is a tight movie and I don’t want to give it away. There are some plot twists but the one I was expecting, that maybe the homeless guy was some sort of bait for a trap, never happens. That is a wise move as if the homeless guy was evil, it would carry the terrible message that the Purge might be right.
Like I said, it is a tight movie with some good action and a family that comes to grip with their own morality. I liked it a lot and I feel like this might be the most American horror movie you could make. We don’t need vampires or zombies, our own society and the people in it as the greatest threat.