October 23, 2014

The Purge

James DeMonaco, 2013
Once a year America participates in The Purge, a 12 hour window in which all crime (including murder) is legal. Home Security salesman James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) believes his home will be the safest, most fortified home on the block - until it becomes a target for a group of Purgers looking for a homeless man that his son Charlie (Max Burkholder) welcomed inside to safety.

The Purge is a film constructed off a very provocative high-concept story-line that was probably not put into the right Director's hands. DeMonaco is responsible for the pretty good 1998 thriller The Negotiator, so he has demonstrated some skills of juggling some complicated story. But instead of taking a more satirical approach to this film, DeMonaco goes in more of a horror-thriller direction, probably because the studios figured that would put a lot of teenagers in movie seats. The film attempts to explore concepts of morality, of civil disobedience, but ultimately on a middle-school level.

With that being said, the concept is still interesting enough to maintain your attention. It will probably have you vicariously living through the characters to a certain extent, playing out what you would do if The Purge were actually a real-life thing. But it's certainly a conflicting film. It probably could have been a much bigger film, with more of a macro feel. Instead they put all of the weight onto the Sandin home. If they spent some time outside of the McMansion, it could have painted a more elaborate picture really displaying the grand scale of the nationwide event. There also should have been a clock ticking throughout the film. It would have contributed to the tension, and would also let you keep your bearings. By the time the home is infiltrated, hysteria ensues and you never really have a sense of whether its late night or early hours of the morning. But nothing is more obnoxious about the film than the end credits with the medicre narrative playing out. "They are calling this the best Purge ever! There are bodies everywhere". Ugh. At least hire a better writer there. Or just have no spoken words. That would have been less irritating. The Purge somehow manages to cushion it's imperfections with it's alluring storyline. 

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