Somewhere in The Purge is a great movie just waiting to be made. The problem is, all we have is this Purge to go by. James DeMonaco writes and directs The Purge about a wealthy family in the midst of a yearly event in which anyone and everyone can go an commit any crime they want, including murder, without violating the law. Anything goes and all emergency services are suspended for twelve hours. Supposedly, the idea is that people get the rage out and the rest of the year they are productive members of society. Release the beast, seems to be the mantra. Ethan Hawke is a narcissist home defense salesman, James Sandin and his wife, Mary (Lena Headey) seem to believe in the yearly event. To signify their support for the the Purge they place blue Baptista flowers out in front of their home. Their two children Charlie (Max Burkholder) and Zoey (Adelaide Kane) are too busy being kids to notice purge night, for the most part. A local young man has the hots for Zoey and sneaks back in to the house just before the security system is armed. The nigh starts simple enough. James goes to work in his study. Mary jumps on the treadmill for a jog. Charlie plays with his remote controlled toys and Zoey is busy snogging with the local young man, Henry. Charlie happens to see a wounded black man running down the street on the cctv from the home and disarms the system to let him in. James turns it back on once the man is inside. about ten minutes later a group of mask wearing preppies turn up at the front door of the Sandins. They demand the release of the man they let in and all will be forgotten. Refusal means the thugs will break in and kill EVERYBODY. It is here where the film goes wrong. DeMonaco is in such a hurry to get to the violence that he does very little to expound on the yearly Purge and what it really means. What The Purge boils down to is your basic, run of the mill home invasion film. But we have seen better. The Sandins breakout the shotguns and various handguns and the mob seems to be oblivious. They skip through the house in their night clothes with machetes. Not much of this film makes sense. Are the thugs unaware of the loud bangs of mister twelve gauge? More importantly, The Purge never seems to dig into the interesting premise it introduces. It is another slasher flick and a predictable one at that. I am not recommending The Purge, however I would like to see a film like this done well in a sequel.
I would give DeMonaco more money for the budget and more time to develop a meaty script about how Purge night came to be and why. How is it that there is virtually no unemployment or crime? What is the significance of the blue Baptista flowers? How do the authorities deal with crime the rest of the year? Surely there are psychos out there not waiting on purge night to come around to kill and maim. The Purge is a short film (the credits roll at 80 minutes. By 85 minutes you are out in the lobby ordering up another Slurpee), so DeMonaco has little time to go anywhere with his creation. I have a sneaking suspicion that DeMonaco wanted more money for his film (as it stands, now he was only allotted a paltry three million dollars) and more time to write a deep and involving script but the money and time were not given to him. The Purge does the best it can and Nathan Whitehead’ s mostly electronic score is terrific. In the end, The Purge offers very little in new material and it does not recycle old material very well, either. This film seems to be thrown together by a studio exec rather than James DeMonaco.