Directed By: James DeMonaco
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Ty Oller, Arija Bareikis, et.al.
In the near future, the United States has a 12-hour period once a year in which all crime is legal and all emergency services are suspended, called The Purge. As one wealthy family settles in behind their high-tech security system, they see a bloodied stranger asking for shelter. After one of them lets the man in, the people pursuing him come knocking, and they plan to use any means necessary to get the man back and take revenge for the killing of one of their own.
The Purge is a horror thriller that uses its low-budget and short runtime to its advantage. Low-lighting and jump scares account for most of the genre elements used. The action takes a little time to get going, but once it does, there are very few breathing periods until the last couple of scenes. Hawke and Headey do well as the blissfully ignorant rich people living in their own little bubble, and the pair have a decent chemistry that makes them believable as a couple. Wakefield, however, is the real standout. As the leader of the home invaders, he carries a sense of maniacal menace thinly veiled by a sheen of polite patience and charm. His character even goes so far as to shoot one of his own crew after they suggest immediate force to get their target back, instead of waiting for the family to hand the man over of their own accord. The writing seems fairly typical for a horror movie. Though there does seem to be a little more thought put into the plot than is standard for these types of movies. The fact that, in the movie, the Purge is treated like a holiday or sporting event, with stats about various cities participation percentages, is almost more scary than the home invasion plot.
Since the movie was made on a shoestring budget, most of the effects practical. The background filler is somewhat noticeable in places, but since most of the movie takes place in one location, it doesn’t detract from the film.
If you enjoy horror movies, you’ll probably enjoy The Purge. It’s scary enough to keep you entertained, but not so scary you’ll regret having watched it when you’re trying to sleep. If nothing else, it would serve as good background noise when you’re working on something and don’t want to do so in silence, and it’s probably something you’ll be comfortable with watching more than once.
The Purge is not available to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.
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