There’s no denying that the concept of The Purge is fantastic – once each year, there’s a 12-hour window where committing any heinous crime that your mind can concoct is completely legal. No punishment. Allowing this “purge” has turned the U.S. into a utopia – completely sane, safe and pure for 364.5 days of the year, but rotten and vile for the other 12 hours. The ideas are limitless – that is, they would be if they wasn’t restricted by The Purge‘s tiny budget and generic screenplay.
The Purge follows a wealthy family of four through the night of The Purge. As the opening bell rings, the thick metallic gates come down, turning their home into a seemingly impenetrable fortress. With bad people roaming the streets looking to “purge,” this concept sounds like it could quickly turn into Panic Room, but the writers avoid that by making the two teenage kids absolute dipsticks. The teenage girl’s boyfriend sneaks into their home pre-purge and the younger boy opens the gates to help a homeless hunted man find refuge. The idiotic acts of these two dummies are the roots of family’s problems that night. Had it not been for them, the annual purge would be an easy-breezy night to survive.
When the kids perform their foolish actions, The Purge is infuriating. Stupid characters that make irrational decisions are annoying, but the events that follow in the first half are actually tense and good. It’s a shame that the second half is bogged down and completely wasted by mundane seen-it-a-million-times-before moments of violence. Like a bottle episode of a television series, the action never leaves the house. There’s a whole menacing world out there, but we’re stuck watching a few yuppies try to survive inside the same walls.
Somewhere deep beneath the low budget and the lost potential of The Purge is a brilliant idea for a great thriller – but it’s not enough to make the movie worthwhile. Fifty percent of The Purge is worth watching, but the other fifty percent most definitely is not.
Photo credit: Universal Pictures