The Purge: Election Year – A Review
If you're unfamiliar with The Purge movie franchise, you're probably not really into horror or slasher flicks. That's cool, I mean, some people don't go to the movies to be freaked the fuck out for nearly two hours straight. On the other hand, people who do love horror movies – like my wife – enjoy feeling the fear, suspense, disgust and anxiety that the horror/slasher movie experience brings, which is why we went to see The Purge: Election Year last week. The Purge franchise provide the horror movie experience with its premise alone: in a near future, a new U.S. government regime called the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) has allowed all crime to be legal for one night a year, which they call the Purge.
Sounds crazy, right? It is as bananas as monkey shit.
So in every Purge movie I saw (The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year), it all starts the same way. The media talks about the upcoming night where all crime is legal, the main characters show their disdain for the night as they prepare for it, and there's an anti-purge movement ready to make a statement. A few hours before the siren marks the beginning of the night, the main characters are out in the streets and you're just waiting for shit to go down.
In The Purge: Election Year, which seems to be the final movie of the franchise, the story focuses around politics. Senator Charlie Roan (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) – a Purge survivor who witnessed the slaughter of her family as a teenager – is running for president to put a definite end to the Purge. Her opposition, who seems to be Republican (even though I don't remember him being referred to as such), is controlled by a group of rich white men (the NFFA) who are getting so much money from the national "holiday" that abolishing it would decrease their revenue and put an end to their quest for supremacy. Since they can't let that happen, they lift the Purge restrictions protecting political officials and they target the senator. The movie then places Leo Barnes (played by Frank Grillo), Roan's head of security, in the forefront as he and many others try to protect the Senator from hired guns, military hit squads and all-around crazies gunning for them. If the senator survives, she can win the election, put an end to the Purge and everyone can stop living in fear for their lives on Purge night every year.
The best part of the movie is of course the WTF factor and the notion that the reality we see on screen is not too far from a reality we could possibly live through because of the whims of some crazy politicians. People are fucked up, so imagine a night where they can do whatever they want and as if it were their God-given right. The movie isn't as scary as it is fucked up since it's filled armed motherfuckers going around in creepy ass masks trying to fuck shit up. There's one great part where Barnes and Roan are running down the street near some dead bodies and the unexpected happens. The "shit-came-out-of-nowhere" type of action is what makes this a horror movie. What makes it less than great though is that, aside from the aforementioned scene, you can predict what's going to happen pretty much the whole time because the movie wouldn't work if the story would've went a different way simply for shock value. All in all, the WTF factor steals the show, the underlying narrative is ignored in comparison to it and most of the action is predictable.
The political aspect of the premise is present in the film since they show that the government is trying to abolish lower class citizens by getting private armies to ambush low-income neighbourhoods and execute everyone living there, which is insane, but that point gets lost in all the senseless killing and chaos taking place. All the audience ends up caring about is finding out who, in the core group of characters introduced at the beginning of the movie, will survive the night. The whole political part of the movie where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting slaughtered (not so far-fetched of an idea) fades in the background of all the carnage. It's hard to make people care about the context and the story in a horror flick, but I have to say that the premise, story and underlying theme of The Purge franchise are powerful and thought out. I also have to say the movie's poster has to be a jab at Donald Trump like America could reach that level of "controlled" chaos if he's elected.
So should you go see this movie? Not on a regular night, but definitely as a matinee or on cheap Tuesdays if your local theatre has that.
I like The Purge movies because it attempts to show the ugly side of our current politics and the WTF factor is off the chain. So, yeah, check out the The Purge: Election Year. I give it a 7 out of 10.
written by Georje Wilden