Movie Review: ‘The Purge: Election Year’
Director: James DeMonaco
Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson
Plot: As the annual Purge, the night where nothing is illegal, approaches America is in full election campaign mode. The candidate making the biggest waves is a senator whose family were tortured to death during a Purge and now seeks to bring the whole system to a halt. The powers that be are keen to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Review: With this new release we took the time to catch up on the trilogy as it current stands. Although the basic concept of a night where nothing is illegal makes a good setting for a horror movie there’s one major problem in the way. It’s fucking stupid for two big reasons.
First problem is that they keep talking about how well the ‘Purge’ works. If everyone gets all their violent tendencies out of the way they spend the rest of the year being good little citizens. There’s a massive crack in this logic right off the bat before it relies on the idea that all crime is premeditated and the only motivation behind it is some deep, dark desire everyone has. It completely neglects crimes of passion, corruption, people committing crimes to survive, crimes caused by mental instability, drugs and addiction and more. Plus there’s no mention of people seeking revenge for murders and crime committed during the Purge. Apparently everyone is dedicated to the honor system and respects the Purge. It’s also weird how much of the population of into the Purge. In this world we’re all sitting around wishing we could murder people if only the darn legal system wasn’t in the way.
The second problem comes from the production side of the series, in that the whole thing gets billed as some dire warning of things to come. It may have been for believable if they added a sci-fi bent and made crime controlled by some new drug that only works if a the population gets the chance to cut loose every once in a while. But this notion that America is heading down some dark path where the Purge is inevitable unless we take heed of some low budget horror films. A dark possible future is a good enough theme to include in the film but they hammer it over and over that it becomes laughable. The use of patriotic music and waving American flags over ‘ironic’ footage of violence is so overblown with forced meaning it makes the films look ridiculous. After the release of the first film the internet was inundated with clickbait articles asking if the Purge could really happen. No, of course it can’t you blithering idiots.
So we come to the third film in the series and these issues continue in spades. Actually, I tell a lie…they do iron out the first one a wee bit. There’s now the implication that the Purge is actually part of a conspiracy to reduce the poor population and minority groups and they’re the ones most affected by the Purges. This makes more sense than the bullshit that it somehow stops people from committing crimes (although we do see crimes being committed prior to the Purge in at least two of the films). The fact that government officials are the only people kept safe during the Purges had alluded to this already.
Now that there’s a politician working against the ongoing Purge this rule has been lifted for the first time. With this comes with the one of the first examples that the script and characters in this movie are exceptionally stupid. Upon learning that this rule is lifted the senator just goes about business as usual and refuses to do anything but sit at home and work as though this WASN’T a VERY OBVIOUS set up for the most powerful people in the country to murder her. It’s also weird that with all their resources they send in a covert mercenary squad to commit the assassination in secret inside of firebombing her entire suburb.
Then the stupidity continues. In response to a politician pushing for change one person comments that ‘things won’t change’, as though this is just the way things are and not a law that was passed in their recent lifetimes. ‘The Purge is Hallowe’en for adults’, yells a mask vendor because Hallowe’en isn’t celebrated by adults at all. Upon surveying poor and injured sheltering from the Purge the senator notes that these are the ‘real victims of the Purge’, seemingly forgetting the hundreds of people literally being tortured and killed within a couple of miles. The entire film feels like a first draft rushed out to coincide the release with the current American election.
If you enjoyed the first The Purge movies you’ll like this one as well. More crazy people in masks hunting down a crew of innocent folk who are unable to find shelter. It fleshes out the concept a bit more, looking at the wider political aspects of the Purge and offering a wider cross section of the population in the main cast. It’s certainly a step up from the first film that limited the entire thing to one household. We do enjoy the Purge films for the concept. It’s a serviceable horror film but it really needs to get away of this “things to come” nonsense.
Score: FOUR out of TEN