Friday, June 28, 2013

The Purge ★

In the future the "new founding fathers" of the U.S. have established what is known as The Annual Purge. With crime rates at record lows, The Annual Purge allows American citizens the chance to commit any crime up to level six in a 12-hour period.
Government officials in level 10 are exempt, but everyone else -- especially the weak and homeless -- is up for grabs, offered as sacrifice for the betterment of the New America.

Successful home security systems salesman James (Ethan Hawke) and trophy-wife Mary (Lena Heady) play parents to a geeky teenage boy and what looks like a "Hit Me Baby One More Time"-teenage Catholic school girl. When 7:00 P.M. rolls around The Annual Purge begins and the family locks down the house for the night--that is until the boy notices a man screaming for help on their ritzy neighborhood's deserted streets.

The moral ambiguities of having a world that is better off for allowing one legal half-day of anarchic violence should be played up with an exciting, deft hand. It's an opportunity to comment on our media's present-day fear-mongering and portrayal of our society as one of blood lust. However, writer/director James DeMonaco flagrantly hands us peripheral homiletic news reels espousing the holy goodness of The Annual Purge, and nothing more. Even the characters (whose lack of development is the actual purge) waver between having high moral grounds and desperately wanting to kill their intruders--a portrayal of beige proportions.

On lock-down, the family has a peculiar way of not knowing where anyone is in their modestly sized house, losing each other at every turn in a hilarious side effect of DeMonaco's one-and-done restriction of his story to the family's home. He attempts a 12 Angry Men-style claustrophobia that resembles nothing of the like. Don't expect The Purge to explore its only valuable plot points and venture out into society--which is the real unforgivable crime.

Its paltry, foreboding 85 minutes is a sign of slash-style editing of a thin story that has very little to say--and the dialogue is downright hackneyed. Don't expect to jump, wince, or least of all think.

About the Author

Ian Tilman Nichols

Author & Editor

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