The Purge is the baseline example on what you should do when aiming to create a decent horror film. This isn’t because the film itself is great though, in fact, the film is just a recreation of a whole list of things that you shouldn’t do when trying to make a good horror movie. Blumhouse Productions often never focuses on what kind of film they’re producing, as long as it will sell.
That was the case when creating The Purge, a psychological, dystopian thriller film based on a very unique concept that turns into a bland, forgettable horror movie in the end. The Purge is written and directed by James DeMonaco, whose direction easily points out that he’s a rookie when it comes to actually directing something.
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The Movie Review
In the year 2014, a totalitarian political party is voted into office, who then decided to pass an annual event known as The Purge. The Purge essentially is one night of freedom given to the people of The United States of America, wherein all illegal activities are legal, including but not limited to voluntary manslaughter. Now, in 2022, the crime rate is virtually nonexistent, and the unemployment rate has dropped down to 1% as The Purge seems to be the key to the country’s prosperity. James and Mary Sandin, along with their kids Charlie and Zoey aren’t the people who would take part in the deadly activities during The Purge.
The Sandins are an upper-class family, living out in the suburbs. Annually on the day of The Purge, the Sandins lock their entire house down for their own security and safety. However, when Zoey’s boyfriend Henry manages to sneak himself into their house, along with a few more complications arising, the Sandins are put into a terrifying, bloody, and life-altering situation.
I’ll be direct, the film is directed very poorly, paced terribly, and also has a horribly unlikeable cast of characters who make dumb decisions every which way. Each and every single thing within the film happens so fast, it doesn’t make sense. There is little to no context for anything that happens, and the motivations for those things feel very unworthy.
Henry, Zoey Sandin’s boyfriend is the prime example of this, he sneaks into his girlfriend’s house during The Purge and then decides to attack the father of his girlfriend? He’s very unlikable sure, but the fact that he did attack James has no motive. Lena Headey’s Mary Sandin is the only character whose decisions make a tiny bit of sense.
The performances are actually great though, and that was to be expected when you have exceptional actors like Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey in the leading roles. Ethan Hawke’s portrayal of an unaware, upper-class man who hasn’t faced many problems in life is stellar. Lena Headey’s the show stealer here though, you can feel all of the emotions her character is going through from her expressions. You get scared with her, you get scared for her and you feel connected to her entirely through her performance.
The film also has a pretty decent overall style, the masks that the purgers seem to be wearing add to the layer of nausea and fear to the film. The lighting is also quite decent throughout the entirety of the film as well. The cinematography aside from the lighting is quite bland though, none of the shots are memorable aside from the very last one, and that is a huge blow to its overall likeability.
The soundtrack is also extremely forgettable, I genuinely cannot remember a single piece of music from it and that is actually quite disappointing.
The Bottom Line
The Purge could have been such a good film, it had a unique concept and a really exciting cast. The film has an abundance of blood, and thrill to it but outside of that and the great performances, it fails in every aspect. It doesn’t scare you, nor does it make you feel interested in what you’re watching.
It constantly jumps from scene to scene without there being any connecting factors, the story is bland and the characters are boring. It’s littered with harmful plot devices that give the film more plot holes than they do substance.