the purge

Ever been so angry you wanted to murder someone?  Apparently director James Demonaco has because today’s review is all about the latest horror/thriller to grace the movie theater entitled The Purge.  The concept of this is intriguing in which every year for twelve hours the government legalizes all crime, including murder.  Such an idea allows for an ultimate game of cat and mouse, which if done right could allow for some scares and spine chills  Of course with the countless horror movies that seem to  pop up every month, it’s hard to find one that is actually worth a trip to the theater.  Has this movie scored a place in the hall of horror fame?  Read on to find out.

Despite the promises of the trailer, the Purge was not as exciting/interesting as I had hoped it would be.  The explanation for the festival of the beast, is rather lame as it really involves feeding the psychopath’s hunger while also serving as population control and a way to maintain order, Hunger Games anyone? Yet for a horror movie the plot is often not what people go for, it is more so the scare factor.  I’ll give this movie one thing it has diversity in their attempts to terrorize the audience.  For those who like a good jump, this movie has plenty of ear drum shattering sounds to try to make your body jump.  The quiet halls of the house with the steady breathing of the characters sets it up perfectly, and if you don’t see it coming then the sudden discharge or appearance of a hunter might make you squeal.  Those who are immune to this tactic have another challenge to face though in which they are to resist the creepiness of the dark.  Early on in the film the power gets cut, casting a veil of shadows in every room that seems to suck the all light and sound out.  Seeing as the halls are rather spacious, well the simple suburban setting becomes a hunting ground that has you wondering what is behind every corner, until it gets overdone.  Finally the last factor comes in the form of how realistic these killers are, for The Purge has ditched the zombified chainsaw wielders, aliens, and supernatural murderers for average people.  While these killers are indeed overacted, more on that later, there is still something that sends chills down your spine when the killing crew arrives, especially those odd masks.

Although I applaud their diversity though, the movie has a lot of downfalls that counter the angle they tried to take.  For one thing, they overdo a lot of the scare attempts that it becomes rather boring and predictable.  How many times am I supposed to be freaked out by a mask man or woman getting a close up?  As for the darkness of the house, well that gets old too, because the size of the house is ridiculous and they tend to revisit the same rooms numerous times to again get things stale.  Yet the biggest thing that I got tired of was the fact that the same dilemma happened not once, not twice, but at least three times in the movie.  Kids ran off into the dark, the dad and mom got into shouting arguments, and I the constant monitor watching made it feel like I was in Safe house except without as good of acting.

Despite the challenges this movie had though, there were some very symbolic messages in the qualities of movie setting.  Perhaps the biggest message was the animalistic and barbaric nature that can overcome any human. The evolution of the characters into releasing their savage side as the situation gets worse brings up the question of how much does it take to give in.  A battle of morals and ethics is fought at various points, mainly between the youngest member of the family and the adults who are years older than him.  While a bit cheesy, overacted, and sometime pathetic, the points they raise are ones that many of us should continue to examine ourselves.  Unfortunately a piece of you might die with this film as well, especially when the torturing and soulless decisions come on screen that, for this reviewer anyway, made me not only uncomfortable but pitying a lot of characters.  Pushing past the morals and tests of whether or not you have a conscious the ending revs up the excitement to finish the movie fairly strong.  There is some action, a few scenes that make you cheer, and some nice ties to the loose ends that form over the course of the movie, though it is not too hard to guess what is coming. As for those who  have American pride, well this movie is happy to bash this proud country.  Numerous times they emphasize this is America, most likely to bash the country about how our military/political group likes to stick its nose in every situation, thus purging ourselves of pent up aggression.  One thing I applaud is the message that the government officials were exempt from the purge.  Sound like anything familiar?  Yeah it’s a nice reflection of the current government officials today, but I don’t want to go too far off so I’ll stop it there.  I don’t know if James Demonaco has something against the country, but keep your eyes open for more ways he pokes at the U.S.A.

Finally I’d like to make a few comments on the acting of this movie.  In a nutshell most of the characters/ parts are rather shallow and simple involving nothing more than screaming, crying, and occasionally some actual dialog.  Ethan Hawke was one of the better roles, had a combination of elegance and ruggedness needed for his transition.  Max Burkholder was the moral driver of the story, and played the frightened kid who had a strong moral obligation to do the right thing.  Rhys Wakefield had the creepy and psychotic role down pat, and despite how polite his character was, managed to drive some anger towards his character, which was I believe the intended goal.  As for the rest of the cast, some aren’t bad, and many of the killers/hunters are very disappointing, who at first are creepy but quickly devolve into mentally imbalanced teenagers who get rather annoying.

In a nutshell, The Purge isn’t necessarily the scariest thing to grace the screen.  Yeah it has diversity in the scaring, and the moral dilemmas make the movie mean something than just watch out for ghosts or zombies.  However, the execution of the idea needs some heavy tweaking.  While it makes   Those looking for a more realistic thriller will get their fill of chills, kills, and blood spills, but this is no gore fest like Saw or Final Destination.  Yet if you are suffering from horror movie withdrawal and don’t want to rewatch something better give this movie a shot.  My best recommendation is to go see the Internship, have a few good laughs, and wait for Man of Steel next week.  My scores for the film are the  following:

Horror/Thriller/SCi-fi:  5.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

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