Josh and Violet give their spoiler-free reviews of horror film The Purge, written and directed by James DeMonaco, and starring Ethan Hawke, where one night a year, all crime is legal!
My opinion regarding the movie review of The Purge can be summarized very simply as a movie that had great potential, but since it was a horror movie, focused too much on the scare factor, and missed a really great opportunity to be a interesting movie.
The Purge stars Ethan Hawke as a security system salesman named James Sandin. His wife is played by Lena Headey, notably from Game of Thrones, and a couple other recognizable faces, but was definitely a low budget film. The movie was directed and written by James DeMonaco. He has written a lot of familiar movies, such as Assault on Precinct 13 and The Negotiator, but has not directed much yet.
As for the background of Ethan Hawke’s character, he sells security systems to the wealthy. These are not your typical security systems, however, as the movie takes place in the future, when the United States has been taken over by what are called the “New Founding Fathers”, that have instituted The Purge. The Purge is period of 12 hours where any and all crimes are legal, from murder to rape to robbery, to violence. The movie portrays this Purge as a way for society to get out their pent up aggression, that this society believes lingers for the entire year, functioning as a sort of “release valve”.
The story begins on the day of The Purge, and James shows off their security system, and they proceed to lock down their house. Their security system includes metal coverings for the windows, a control room that has a security feed, and a small gun arsenal. The daughter heads to her room, and we find that her boyfriend has snuck into the house, and wants to “talk” to her father about their relationship that the father doesn’t approve of because of their age difference. As the story continues, we learn that this Purge has become a class dividing issue, as the “have-nots” are basically left to fend for themselves as the ”haves” essentially hunt them down.
This comes to a head in the movie, when the family’s son is alone in the “headquarters” room, and he sees a man being chased by some of the “hunters”. The son takes it upon himself to help this man, and shuts down the security system, opening the giant steel protective doors, and allows this man to slip in. Unfortunately, an altercation between the father and the daughter’s boyfriend allows this man to slip away. So now this family has to deal with a strange man hiding in their house. Luckily they manage to rearm the security system before any further mayhem happens.
To make matters worse, the people hunting this man have discovered that that he has taken refuge in the family’s house, and are demanding his return, or they are going to kill the family. Oh and the security system? This will not be a problem for this band of privileged kids out on their annual “hunt”. The movie turns into a search for this mystery man, so that he can be turned over to these psychopaths waiting outside, so that the family can be saved. In an effort to not spoil the rest of the movie, I will just say that a lot of violence and creepiness ensues. Also, the family’s neighbors seem to be a bit jealous of the money that James has made from selling systems to everyone in the neighborhood, and this will play a factor in the end of the movie. But, I will leave it at that, and provide my thoughts on the movie, spoiler free.
Overall I thought the movie was mediocre, but better than I had thought it would be. I don’t enjoy many horror movies, as usually the story and believability of the movie is usually at the expense of simply being creepy, which I don’t really enjoy. This movie touched on some interesting moral dilemmas and themes that I wish were fleshed out more.
I thought the social commentary of the economics was interesting, and the dilemma portrayed with what is “right” versus what is “best” for the family. Unfortunately the horror theme only allowed for this to be touched on briefly, and therefore weakened the movie quite a bit in my opinion.
I thought Ethan Hawke acting job as a sleazy salesman/family man dichotomy was portrayed well in this film. I also enjoyed the performance of Edwin Hodge, who played the homeless man (he is never given a name). As for the creepy leader, he did a really good job being “creepy” with his crazy grin he has. As for the other characters, they did alright. I found the son creepier than caring though, especially with his freaky robot doll thing. What parents would want that bald burnt doll with creepy eyes driving around? It reminded me of Toy Story’s creepy spider-baby-head that Cid made from different toys.
Overall I felt this movie would have been a much better thriller than a horror movie, and could have been so much more than another “run of the mill” hack and slash movie. Better yet, after talking with some friends, we thought this would have been an excellent mini-series.
Overall, I would give this movie a 6 out of 10. It had the makings of an excellent movie, and overall I enjoy Ethan Hawke’s performance as an actor. It is too bad that this movie suffered from what most horror movies are plagued by—a lack of story depth.
From the first time I heard the radio advertisement for The Purge, I was in. In fact, I went into the movie without ever seeing a trailer for it. You have to admit, it has a great premise: Once a year for 12 hours, all crime is legal and no emergency services are available. One of my favorite subgenres of sci-fi is a seemingly utopian futuristic society that is actually dystopian, so I was eager to be along for the ride, even if this only takes place in the not so distant future of 2022. The movie was an original story, written and directed by James DeMonaco (who wrote Assault on Precinct 13 and The Negotiator), and produced by Michael Bay (Transformers) and James Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister).
Ethan Hawke stars in the film as James Sandin, a salesman of security systems that protect people’s homes during the annual Purge. As he drives home from work to his upper class suburban neighborhood, we hear people talking on the radio about what their plans are for this year’s Purge, which will be starting very shortly that evening: stay in or go hunting? James is greeted by his wife, Mary, played by Lena Heady (Game of Thrones), and soon sits down to dinner with her and their teenage children, Charlie (played by Max Burkholder) and Zoey (played by Adelaide Kane) before it’s time to put the house into lockdown mode for the Purge.
At some point during the night, Charlie notices a wounded man outside their house, screaming for help, so he lets him in. Unfortunately, it turns out that a gang of masked upper class teenagers had been chasing the man, who is homeless, and have tracked him down to the Sandin house, where they cut the power, ring the doorbell, and demand that the Sandins hand the man over, so that they may purge themselves, as is their “right.” However, if the Sandins do not comply, the group will break into the house and kill them all. Delivering the man is easier said than done, as not only does James have to find the man, who is hiding somewhere in the dark house, but he is also faced with the moral dilemma of whether he should send an innocent man to his death in order to protect his family.
The film is billed as a horror movie, so it has many of the horror clichés you would expect, which were kind of annoying. For example, it goes for the cheap, unnecessary jumps. Additionally, the characters often do stupid things, like run away and get separated from everyone else for no apparent reason, or make big decisions while someone is missing, which is quite frustrating.
I wanted this movie to be so much more than it was. It had so much potential. Such a great concept, but only such a small scope covered, since the story focuses on the Sandin family, whose house is the only setting. I would have liked to see what was going on outside the gated community, out in the real world, and how the normal everyday folk were affected by the Purge. True, we do see some raw footage of past Purges, but I would have liked to see more. What happened to the Sandin family seemed like more of an isolated incident in comparison to what must have been going on elsewhere. The movie sets up this whole history about the “new Founding Fathers,” but we don’t know what that means really, or how exactly the Purge came about, other than brief, vague references.
I guess the bottom line is that I wanted more, and that I wish this concept had been more fully developed, with a wider scope than just this one family. Might we see a sequel which does just that? Based on box office numbers, taking in over $36 million to be #1 its opening weekend (and considering the film had been made for only $3 million), Blum had announced by Monday evening that The Purge 2 was in development. I would hope that in the sequel we get more background information on the Purge, and that it would expand its focus to different aspects and perspectives.
All in all, great premise, but poor execution. At least we get a pretty awesome scene where Ethan Hawke kicks some butt.
My rating: 5.5/10