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Picture this. It is the year 2022 and unemployment and crime rates are almost non-existent in America. For 364 days of the year peace and harmony is adequately restored to perfection the reason? because every year the Government permits a 12 hour period where ALL crime including murder, rape and robbery is legalized and the Emergency Services are completely suspended. Welcome to The Purge.

I must admit that when I first heard about this movie it caught my attention straight away. The idea of a night of a legalized mass slaughter is enough to chill the blood and that concept alone is enough to make what could have been a highly interesting narrative. At the very least it could have played out as a satirical criticism of Government propaganda and theories of a New World Order. Unfortunately The Purge decides half way through to abandon this idea and instead becomes a “home invasion” horror movie and an average one at that. The stupidity of the characters also distracts from what could have been an extremely well crafted pre-Apocalyptic thriller.

Directed by James DeMonaco and pushed by the producers of Paranormal Activity “The Purge”, opens by introducing us to a parallel world where elitism serves as the only protection from being wiped out during the annual night of murder. In fact the “rich” are openly encouraged to exit their homes and partake in the murder of the poor, so as to “cleanse” the streets and keep unemployment rates simmering as low as 1%. Ethan Hawke plays a family man who is fortunate enough to exist in the “upmarket” side of society. He owns a state of the art home complete with a security system which he himself designs and sells to other elitists. Lena Heady plays his wife who fully supports “The Purge” but who do not participate (apparently if you don’t own a state of art home and refuse to participate you are put to death.)They also have 2 children, (Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder) the latter of which is used to spark off the home invasion side of the film.

Enter Edwin Hodge, a tramp who is being pursued by a group of rich frat boys brandishing weapons in creepy masquerade style garments. In the only moment of gratitude shown in the whole 85 minutes of running time, Hawkes youngest son allows Hodge to take refuge in the family home which results in the family fighting to stay alive once the murderers in masks close in. A battle of morals ensues as the family battle to make it through the night.

One of the main problems with “The Purge” is that from the opening credits it expects audiences to completely throw any logic out of the window in favor of an almost implausible plot and just as audiences are encouraged to “buy” into such an idea the whole film throws us off course by ushering us into teen horror territory. The first half of the movie is creepy and unsettling but the second half is a fairly bog standard affair which apart from a few nicely choreographed chase sequences and jump scares does nothing but disappoint. The antagonists with the exception of Rhys Wakefield are also weak and not very scary at all. The film also suffers by being too short and the ending involving Hawke and his teenage daughters boyfriend is also one of the strangest I’ve ever seen. I also have some problems with the initial concept which does seem to contain numerous plot holes and inconsistencies, for example

* Why in 2022 (a mere 9 years into the future) are 99% of the population of America willing to participate in mass murder, rape, assault etc, just because the government tells them to?

* Would such a large number of people really be willing to perform these acts JUST because crime is not legalised? What happened to morals?

* How could people possibly ever live their lives to the full knowing that one day a year they could be murdered and no one would bat an eye lid?

* Are we really being asked to root for characters that initially support such a heinous and insidious concept?

I was really excited by the movie and overall did enjoy it as these days I try not to expect much from highly hyped movies. The main down-fall was the lack of belief with certain things and the abrupt ending, everything seems to be going just right in the movie and then the ending sequence finishes the movie off in a matter of cluttered confusing minutes. Just because I like these kind of films it gets a 6/10 from me but overall nothing more than an average film than will only appeal to the fans of this sub-genre like me.

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