I’d describe this as a psychological invasion horror thriller as the ultimate taboo is brought into question.
Providing that Director James DeMonaco executes his smart idea with aplomb, this should function better than a well stocked brewery.
Plot details and/or spoilers will be revealed within the next 12 hours
Those unleashing the beast include:
Ethan Hawke – James
Lena Headey – Mary
Rhys Wakefield – Polite Stranger
Edwin Hodge – Bloodied Stranger
Adelaide Kane – Zoey
Max Burkholder – Charlie
Tony Oller - Henry
In 2022, the U.S. Government sanctions an Annual Purge which basically means that at a specific time of year, all crime (including murder) is legal.
During the titles, people are shown displaying murderous rage from previous purges…
Theoretically, society in general should reap the benefits of releasing such aggression.
It is deemed a resounding success as the epidemic of crime has reached an all time low and the dole office is hardly bustling.
During this period, all emergency services is suspended and the only restrictions are that Government officials cannot be harmed and Grade 4 weaponry and above is prohibited.
I can only guess this means stuff like bazookas and rocket launchers.
The gutter press and those who enjoy bitching about all things controversial are secretly pissed off with the organisation known as the ‘New Founding Fathers of America’.
The film focuses around the Sandins, consisting of husband James, wife Mary and their children, Zoey and Charlie.
Since the inclusion of the Purge, James has made a modest fortune by selling security equipment to other homeowners which transforms their houses into impregnable strongholds.
Despite her parent’s disapproval, Zoey continues to see Henry while Charlie is home-schooled and distances himself from the outside world.
He has developed a weird robot called Timmy which boasts an on-board camera and night vision. Due to a recent enhancement, he seems to like and play ‘old’ music.
I think it's wise for any toy superstore to stock a partially burnt doll mounted on tank tracks as it would spark a flurry of complaints and frighten the kids.
In his ‘secret spot’, he monitors visual surveillance through the eyes of Timmy via special glasses.
While the neighbourhood waits with excited breath, Mary chews the fat with girl chum Grace who speaks of hosting a ‘Purge Party’.
At about 6pm, James arrives home and they discuss the Purge and other shit over dinner.
The news broadcast warns ‘this is not a test’ and as the clock ticks and tocks towards 7pm, a siren signals that the shit could be hitting the fan.
After the news broadcast, James activates lockdown.
As events unfold on monitor and as each relieve the boredom in their own way, Charlie observes a wounded and distressed man bumbling about outside.
Also, Henry has already snuck in via a window to surprise Zoey.
They say that men think about sex often but making out is only on her mind as he actually came to sort things out between him and James.
As guilt takes an overwhelming stranglehold, he disarms the system which allows unforced entry.
Despite James’s best efforts to secure the situation, the damage is already done and the potential psychotic legs it.
Judging by his dog tags, you assume the guy is a down on his luck war veteran.
I’m unsure of the order of these events but it goes something like this.
Led by a polite fruit loop, a gang of mask wearing reprobates makes the family aware that the man is nothing but a ‘homeless pig’ and unless he’s signed, sealed and delivered, they’ll break in and murder everybody as they’re denying them their purge.
The hunt for a bacon sandwich is on…
Henry appears and pulls a gun on James but is instead filled with lead.
It’s inconclusive if Henry just missed or was firing blanks. Whatever, he buys it.
So after that unfortunate business, Charlie uses Timmy to find the guy but his secret spot is found and exploited.
Timmy also spots Zoey but Charlie is unable to warn her not to go to his cubby hole.
Zoey is held at gunpoint and after the usual ‘don’t do it, let her go’ bullshit, Mary is given the nod by James to shoot but the safety catch prevents a bullet to the wherever.
After a struggle, the guy is a little taped up and is tortured with a letter opener for trying to escape.
Despite this uncomfortable sensation, he tells them to give him up and save the children.
Bless his cotton socks.
During another conversation with the polite stranger, one of his cohorts offends the boss man and is killed for naughty expletives.
James returns and stamps his dominance as the king of the castle as they’re going to fight.
The guy inevitably struggles free and is on the run (again).
Kill or be killed is about to be taken to a whole new apex.
Time's up and the masks successfully make a forceful entrance, without even huff or a puff.
Right, I’m fairly sure that I’m now back on track…
James dishes the necessary bloodshed to the masked intruders but is surprised by the leader who gives him the point that he never wanted to understand.
“Thank you for this unforgettable purge” and gratitude is sealed with an unwelcome kiss.
Our man has the family cornered but when Zoey unexpectedly unloads, his itchy trigger finger will never be used again.
Is this supposed to be ironic revenge?
Grace and other friends turn up and kill the remainder of masks for their own selfish needs as they want the pleasure of snuffing them out like a candle as having their faces rubbed with success is not appreciated.
While this would piss the average mammal off, murder is a little extreme...
When they are attacked by more masks, it appears they will soon be going the same way as James but wow, this family would make a cat throw a tantrum as their skins are saved again by the unlikeliest of sources - the bloodied geezer.
It would be easy to erase bitch face and her cronies but Mary wants the rest of the night to pass peacefully.
There’s still time for Grace to reach for a nearby shotgun but a nose break later from Mary is the very least that this thoroughly unpleasant person deserves.
7am is reached and the siren marks the end of murder and a family torn apart.
The survivors leave quietly and as the passing of James and Henry is mourned, we hear the distant sound of emergency services fast approaching and watch as their eventual saviour trudges away.
During the end titles, we hear how the latest purge panned out for others...
This is a very watchable piece of celluloid and your attention should never wander.
The suspense is brought to the boil nicely and while it’s predictable, this doesn’t stop adrenaline pumping through every vein.
Violence is obviously at its most brutal when the masks break in and even the sporadic sequences are littered with clichés, plausible desperation should be given a clap.
Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey distribute very capable performances as he makes a Sinister decision and she handles a situation filled with Dredd.
Rhys ‘Home & Away’ Wakefield excels as the well spoken psychopath and appropriately, the man behind the mask is creepier without it.
About the bloodied geezer, he instantly reminds me of Willie C. Carpenter’s character Roper in John Woo’s Hard Target, as they are both literally running for their lives.
While you’re considering that reference, DeMonaco’s film is far from perfect.
On this law exempt night, everybody carries the threat of committing murder so letting a stranger in off the street and endangering the lives of everybody is hardly a realistic move.
Also, the film rightly states that nothing is impenetrable but even so, the masks don’t exactly have to buy this Mickey Mouse equipment a drink to persuade its skin to be shed.
Despite these quibbles, this locomotive rumbles along with enough style and grace to ensure that I’m already looking forward to the next annual occasion.
I’ll leave you with this curious thought.
If this work of fiction ever became fact, what would you do?