As scenes of terribly violent and hateful acts are shown on security camera footage set to classical music, “The Purge” begins by informing audiences about the meaning behind its title.
Taking place in a dystopian version of the U.S. in 2022 after an unspecified shift in government, the country allows its citizens to roam free for one night a year. During this annual 12-hour “purge,” all crime is legal and all emergency services are suspended until the next morning.
Despite the atrocity of this premise, the society is perceived as near perfect with a record-low crime rate of 1 percent and similar unemployment rates. The government in the movie, referred to as the “New Founding Fathers,” issues propaganda that states “Purge Night” is a necessary duty of all Americans. The night is supposed to serve as a catharsis to purge sinful feelings of hate and violence, thus creating a perfect society.
The story starts with home security salesman James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) coming home from work and preparing his family to wait out “Purge Night” locked safely in their fortified home. While neighbors are seen sharpening machetes and planning a night of hunting, the Sandin family plans to patiently wait out the night – until some unexpected visitors enter the family home, which was thought to be impenetrable.
The movie serves as an excellent critique of society, as it explores human nature by placing characters in this theoretical world. However, the short, 85-minute movie leaves a lot to be desired and leaves the audience wanting more – not in a good way.
The plot, though unique, is underdeveloped and could have been better explored if it included a larger element. Another underdeveloped aspect of the movie is the characters, who are portrayed by subpar, shallow acting. Perhaps the point of the film is to portray emotionally-detached murderers, but the execution is not skillful enough for the viewer to make that distinction.
For anyone interested in seeing another quick action and horror movie, this film can do the trick. For those looking for a quality, well-produced cinematic display of drama and acting ability, then this movie is not it.