Friday, June 7, 2013
Jesus said "For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. (Matthew 26:11). In the future, if things go the way of writer/director James DeMonaco's (click for good interview) imagining, we will not only experience Godlessness, but also a method for keeping the poor down to a very few.
The Purge evokes a wicked, nightmarish quality of tension and murderous intent, but this isn't what makes it frightening. The real fear comes from the political and social issues it examines on inequality & class, the natural inclination of humans towards violence and what could happen if ever a radically Republicany/Teapartyish/NRAer type group were to get a hold of the Country without any checks and balances.
The year is 2022 and the government is run by a party called The New Founding Fathers. For the last couple of years they've instituted a "holiday" called "The Purge" where crime of any type is legal, there's no repercussions the next day and no police or emergencies services for a period of 12 hours. The idea being this night allows everyone to get out their aggression, a cleansing of sorts, then the rest of the year everyone agrees to live peacefully. Most importantly, those on the fringe of society or just too poor to protect themselves are fair game, more people of poverty die every Purge night than anyone else and therefore, no longer a drain on the economic system. The movie begins with street surveillance video of past Purges where we see people on rampages of violence. The strange part being, although the purge allows any crimes to be committed, the only thing that seems to be taking place or on anyone's mind is murder.
DeMonaco was smart to keep the movie manageable by setting it in a gated community with a focus on one family. The Sandin's - father James (Ethan Hawke) has made a financial killing during the year selling home security systems to protect "good folk" from the dangers of The Purge. His wife, Mary (Lena Headley) on the surface seems to be enjoying her safe, upper class suburban lifestyle, but with a pallor of unease beneath the surface. Daughter, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is only vaguely aware of Purge night, like the way most celebrate St. Patty's Day, you know when it is and what's going on, but if you're not Irish, it's really just another day. Zoey's only concern is that her father has forbidden her from seeing a boy who's older than she. Brother, Charlie (Max Burkholder) is the moral center of the film, the only one questioning the right and wrong of The Purge.
And it's Charlie's "bleeding liberal heart" that brings The Purge to the Sandin's own front door, in the form of the Preppy Purger (Rhys Wakefield) and his equally self-entitled friends. The masks are eerie, but Wakefield's polite smile is chilling.
I think this movie could become a classic. It's tight, you know there's a lot of moral commentary being said, but not to the point of being preachy. It comes down to good ol' fashioned, fear, hiding, family protectiveness, butt kicking, shooting, ax throwing, knife wielding... everything you need for a satisfying summer horror flick.
LAMB Score 4 out of 5
Philly Film Blog