This weekend sees the release of summer's first big horror movie, The Purge. From the crowd we saw the movie with, it appears that the 18 year old demographic has been anxiously looking forward to some violence and bloodshed. They came out in droves and literally would not shut up for two seconds of the movie. This annoyed me at first, but then I decided to join in the fun. Numerous times I found myself yelling at the screen at the absolutely inane things that the cast did throughout the movie.
In all honesty, I found myself questioning the whole premise behind a yearly purging that cleanses American citizens of their pent up anger and need to commit heinous crimes against one another. While its a creative premise, the movie suffers some extremely weak plot exposition and features some absolutely bad choices on the part of its characters. But again, its domestic horror. It couldn't exist if people were thinking in the right mindset.
The big fault of the movie lies in its sheer lack of tension. Good horror relies on a few things: intensity, dynamic scares, creative kills and well crafted villains. The Purge falters on all of these fronts. First, it takes way too long to get to the climax and we're let down with plot twists you can see coming a mile away. Secondly, its never as clever as it wants you to believe it is. Lastly, it wastes a really creepy crew of villains in the matter of just a few minutes. While I wouldn't call The Purge a failure, I'd say its just as problematic as most other modern horror films. It has a hard time living up to its premise and feels rushed once it finally gets moving.
I would write this movie off as a way to spend a couple hours at the theater. It's not the worst thing you're going to see this summer, and its nowhere near the best. The Purge is a product of a system that constantly promises something new, but ends up delivering a pop culture bastard child of everything we've ever seen done in horror over the past twenty years or so. The Purge is part The Strangers, part Hunger Games, part Clockwork Orange, and a whole lot of mediocre stewed in to a pot of characters that are seriously flawed in the decision making department.
Take your chances but know that you might feel the need to purge. A bucket of popcorn later, I know I do.
-Review by Chris George