Coming from the folks that produced Paranormal Activity 1-78, I didn't know whether The Purge was going to focus on the dramatic side of things or the scary, jumpy side of things. If you keep up with this blog, at all, you probably have realized that I don't watch many scary movies, so I was hoping for dramatic. The entire concept surrounding the film was so, so cool, and I think cool is the perfect word (not that it would be cool in reality). Going in, I knew that I was going to hope that the film was made by more serious, dramatic filmmakers, because it really could have been great. But, making the buck is more important than making a good movie, and that's what small-budget films like The Purge are for. Here is the formula for this film:
Mediocre Box Office Success - Small Budget = Huge Success for Universal
Let me start by telling you the two practical lessons that I learned from The Purge... #1-Never buy a house that could possibly contain a family member who cannot hear a loud yell inside said house, due to the distance between you and them... #2-Don't have stupid kids!... Basically, these two learning opportunities moved the plot along the entire time. It's really not that hard to stay together in one place, people! There was very little depth to plot, but I was intrigued the whole time, which is what matters the most. As is the case with most horror-like films, people did stupid stuff that made you just laugh at them the entire time. However, the film felt more dramatic than horrific. Was it an Oscar-worthy storyline? Heck no. At least it was dramatic though!
In any film produced by the Paranormal Activity folks, you expect really bad acting and shallow characters. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I actually liked a few of the characters in The Purge. Sure, there weren't any great characters, but I'm just glad I liked at least one.
Lena Headey's turn as mom, Mary Sandin, was pretty much ridiculous. She did the most screaming of anyone in the film, and she was beyond annoying. Also, she lacked the ability to pull the trigger, which doesn't bode well for folks in movies where a lot of people are being killed. Daughter, Zoey Sandin, played by Adelaide Kane, was also annoying, because she was stupid. STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!
Quality father-figure, James Sandin, played by Ethan Hawke, actually made some logical decisions, and he was a pretty good dad, which is not expected from a film like The Purge. He really didn't have a weakness, so kudos to him. My favorite character, by far, was Rhys Wakefield's "Polite Stranger," who freaked me out a bit. He wasn't scary, but he did make me uncomfortable, so I can't imagine how the Sandins felt! I hope he shows up in future films in the same type of roles.
Surprisingly enough, I liked it. Although the progression of the story ended up going well over the top, the concept was simply cool enough to be believable and intriguing. Maybe they should have set it a bit further into the future, but I understand their technological budget limitations. Kudos to the folks at Blumhouse for keeping me entertained and succeeding, yet again, with a low budget film. We are sure to get a sequel to The Purge, so be sure you check this one out at some point. I only wish that the idea behind this film would have been incorporated into a deeper, darker drama. It would be really cool to see the politics behind the creation of The Purge (the event, not the film). Nevertheless, it worked out. I give The Purge 2.65 out of 5 stars.