The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Purge | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Purge

A family comes under siege on the one night of the year when all crime is legal.

Directed by: James DeMonaco
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield

In the U.S of 2022, one night a year is designated as "The Purge", a 12 hour window in which all crime is legal. With citizens using this opportunity to take out their aggression, it puts the crime rate at an all time low for the rest of the year. James Sandin (Hawke) works for a security firm selling a system which turns homes into fortresses, specifically to keep families safe on Purge night. His success allows his own family to reside in a lavish home, which he has equipped with his security system. James locks down his home on Purge night and everything seems to be going well until his son allows a homeless man into the house to evade a vicious gang who are out to kill him. The gang issue James an ultimatum: release their quarry or they will use special equipment to break in and kill his family.
As sci-fi premises go, the central hook of 'The Purge' is one of the most interesting. Sadly, writer/director DeMonaco wastes his movie's selling point. In fact, the film could actually exist without the concept of Purge night. It's essentially a riff on the climax of 'Straw Dogs', with the same dilemma of whether to protect the target of an angry mob, thus putting yourself at risk, or give them what they want in order to save yourself. Rather than the allegorical sci-fi drama most will have been lead to expect from the film's marketing, DeMonaco gives us a run of the mill home invasion thriller.
The film is riddled with inconsistencies. The villains wear masks when they have no need to hide their identity. After all the talk of an impenetrable security system, they appear to break in ridiculously easy, seemingly by smashing a few windows. A character disappears inexplicably for most of the action just to return for a plot twist. The daughter (Kane) wanders the house on her own rather than staying with her family. There's no explanation given as to how exactly the purge reduces crime for the rest of the year.
DeMonaco's film is practically a remake of his script for the remake of 'Assault on Precinct 13', which also starred Hawke. There's no depth and no exploration of what makes seemingly normal people take part in the night's rampage, just a siege with faceless villains ala 'The Strangers'. As siege movies go, this one's pretty mediocre, yet another missed opportunity in the sci-fi genre.

Eric Hillis