Friday, July 18, 2014

The Purge (2013) Review:

Nothing has really changed since cops and modern day law was introduced into society. There's the lower, upper and middle class that strive to make it big in the world and hope to all be successful. Obviously, not everyone does make it and unfortunately with this inequality comes various side effects. Much of these problems include that of a drop in productivity of the economy and increased crime rates. But what if all of that was eliminated with just one half day where all law enforcement stopped and all crime was permitted for a full 12 hours? Welcome to the year 2022, and not a far one at that. Where crime is at an all time low, the economy is booming and the unemployment rate is at 1%. That's astounding. But so is "The Annual Purge" that was put into place as well.

Don't be worried, it's only half a day!
For one thing, this particular premise is so deviant that it's difficult not to think of what one could do on such a holiday (I guess one would consider it). But this also brings up the question, what would be the point of this violent 12-hour explosion if everything were great? Turns out there are still homeless people, but apparently the purge is what is supposed to take care of this issue. With this in mind, the writing by (as director too) James DeMonaco has socio-political subtext in the story that debates on whether the purge truly is a benefit to society, to release built up anger or if its an excuse just to have unmonitored violence. The writing also brings up the idea of morals; whether one should participate or not. All very good, but with this comes lack of depth to the characters at hand.

Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey play a set of parents with two children that end up being caught in a dangerous situation. When a stranger from the outside asks for shelter from an eminent group purge threat, the group in search of the stranger begins making threats to break into the family's home. As a cast, the actors perform to their best, but the development of their specific roles are either too thin or too cliche. Seriously, some of these characters that take part in the purge are just grudge holders. If you look at them carefully, you could see that they had opportunities to possibly reconcile with their grudgemaker, but no. Instead they wait for the purge, why wait that long? What if they later on were to become something more and made your life better than ever? These are just flimsy motivations to what seems like taking part in a compulsory addiction that eats away at the conscience of the individual if left unchecked. What's wrong with these people?

The only characters that truly stood out was Charlie (Max Burkholder) and the Polite Leader (Rhys Wakefield). Burkholder's role brought up several times the issue of morals because oddly everyone around him has no conscience, not even his family. Wakefield on the other hand brings on the insane by giving a performance that was not only creepy but downright disturbing because of how polite yet unfeeling he is. His best scene is when it comes to him meeting Ethan Hawke at the front door. Sadly even Wakefield is underutilized.

Wakefield (center) - this guys loves his role
With also the shorthand of unique characters comes a few other issues. For one, the pacing felt slow. It's understood that giving the family time to settle the issue creates suspense but with slow pacing, the tension is lost. Then when things get under way, the third act feels like your regular horror film - cheap jump scares and violence that is at best average. Fire axes, knives and guns aren't all that special. Using household appliances would've been more interesting. Cinematography wasn't anything special either. Score wise, Nathan Whitehead's music was alright. What'll really hook people is his light and fluffy intro credit song. Very bizarre because of how it contrasts what is being presented. There were a few other moments of different tunes, but at times he would also create tunes that sounded a bare as Joseph Bishara's score to that of The Conjuring (2013). Starting out isn't always the easiest so we'll see if he grows as a composer.

Its premise, layered writing and only a couple characters are what make it interesting to see. Sadly, the pacing is slow, the violence is generic and the rest of the cast is flat out boring with cliched development.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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