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The Purge

While stuck watching re-runs of re-runs the other day, an interesting trailer appeared out of nowhere. Well, at least the first half of it was. It’s very rare I actually get excited about a big Hollywood blockbuster these days, and I was on the edge of my seat. Sure, the premise has been done before, but this one just looked good. For one day, or in this film just twelve hours, all crime is legal. Drugs, murder, robbery, sodomy, beastiality… Ok, well, maybe those last two parts won’t be in this film, but you get the idea! And then, out of nowhere, it introduces a subplot about a bleeding heart kid who lets a stranger into his home to save him. Of course he’s being chased by a group people, some wearing a female version of the Guy Fawkes mask, and they are intent on getting him, or killing the family if they don’t produce him.

Where the hell did this twist come from, and who thought it would be a good idea to include it?

This is a film by the producers of Paranormal Activity, a series I hate, and Sinister which I also didn’t like, but didn’t hate as bad. I did enjoy the production values on Sinister though, and The Purge looks like they’re going for the same kind of quality. To be honest, I think it looks pretty good visually based on the trailer alone, so that’s not one of the reasons I’m now leery about seeing this film, even though I really enjoy Ethan Hawke’s previous works. Instead, what kills me is the plot, and how I can’t help but feel this is two films crammed into one.

On one hand, this seems to be either a Science Fiction film of the future, or perhaps could be taken as an alternate reality or universe, sort of a “What if…” story. This is something I can get behind because, if done right, it can really show the darker, grittier side of the world from a completely mirrored standpoint, exploring the options based on one slightly different path. Of course, given the way society is becoming, this could just be the former of those two options rather than the latter. Either way, this method would focus the attention on the family in the film, who are being terrorized and hunted by a group of people, and put the focus on who they are and why. Perhaps their the members of the gated community that IMDB admits they live in for some reason or another for a “twist” ending. Perhaps it’s a jealous ex lover and his family one of them wronged. This concept leaves so much room to play with, especially as far as the character development goes, leaving the option to make these people you care about because these horrible people you’d rather see dead after all. This can leave movie goers guessing left and right about who these people are, and why this is happening.

The Purge

On the other hand, we could have had a story set in modern day, without the whole purging going on, about a man trying to escape a group of people hunting him down. He stops at the house of a family, who could be friends, family, or strangers just willing to help, all getting caught up in the madness. This leads to those people following him there, and the family trying to survive. Perhaps they saw the faces of the killers and now they can’t let them live. Granted it doesn’t leave much open for twists and turns, but instead becomes a film about a group of people who perhaps care for one another more, which opens the option for more emotion between characters, and interesting moralities choices, or changes for the sake of their loved ones safety. There could even be some personal sacrifices such as the father dying to protect the son.

Instead, what we get are these two concepts rolled into one. It’s the future, crime is legal for twelve hours, and a kid lets this random outsider into the house, and now the family is being tormented by the group of strangers who are after this guy for some reason while being locked down in their house due to all the safety measures they implimented to avoid intruders during the purge. It just seems like too much, and their relying on the whole purging concept more as a crutch than a possible pro to the story line. Honestly, unless the writers have a damn good explanation for this character being in this film to cause the madness for the three person family, it could have just been eliminated entirely and nothing would change.

The Purge

The more I sit here and type about this film, the more I get the feeling this stranger was probably a late minute addition to get a big name incorporated to the film’s cast for the sake of box office revenue. There’s also a good chance many of his scenes were even shot after the film was done to give it a little more “substance.” But, knowing the writers, I’d bet more on the fact that he was actually in the original script. Finally, the whole purging idea may just be meant to cash in on the current popularity of 2012’s historical Drama titled Purge, which is also listed on the Internet Movie Database as being referred to as The Purge. The film has yet to come to North America, as it was made for Finland, and has been receiving plenty of positive feedback. Anything for a buck, right?

The whole premise for The Purge just seems way more complicated than it needs to be, and it honestly has me really bummed. Given the trend of modern Hollywood flicks, I can’t help but immediately feel that these two strong plots being merged into one will only muck up the film and hinder the enjoyment to what more than likely would have ended up a low-tension popcorn flick. I was completely ready to drop the near twenty dollars for tickets and additional twelve for popcorn and soda I don’t have to see this movie until maybe twenty seconds into the trailer. Now, I’ll wait to check out the reviews, and gauge my excitement from there. Then again, that’s what I did with The Darkest Hour, and I was still horribly let down on a personal level by that film. More than likely, I’ll just end up catching it on DVD when it hits Redbox, maybe not even then if I continue to think and dissect this film logically anymore than I already have.

The Purge

Digital review material for this article provided by television.