Horror movies have always been a huge deal for Hollywood. They’re cheap to make and usually bring in huge profits. The problem is that most of them are cheaply made as well. I guess that’s why the great or even just good horror movies stand out. The Purge is the next in line to try to rake in dough and scare audiences. The plot revolves around a night called the Purge where all crime is legal and a rich family has to deal with some invaders. Essentially it’s a house invasion movie hidden behind a fairly interesting concept. The stars are Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady as the father and mother of the house. Is it any good?
NO, not really. What seemed like an interesting concept is almost immediately thrown to the side in favor of a average house invasion. As the Purge begins a Man is running down the street screaming for help and the son of Ethan Hawke opens the garage for him and lets him inside. It’s these stupid character decisions throughout that make you not care for anything that happens. I can’t even remember any of the characters names. The man they let in has some creepy people after him who like to wear masks for some reason…… That’s the whole setup for the movie. What we get next is a generic and sometimes boring movie that attempts to be thrilling and scary. There are a few scenes I liked that built some suspense and had me interested but it just never kicks into HOLY SHIT MODE. Not even close. The concept could have explored the rich and poor but ultimately the movie defeats itself by forgetting the concept in the first place. It all feels like such a wasted opportunity. The main villain and his goonies are kind of creepy but the movie never genuinely scared me a few times. Even these scares were just pop outs and I just didn’t care what happened to the characters. Lena Headey is a badass a few times though!
Ethan Hawke is a favorite actor of mine but his character is written as a corporate jerk who you just can’t get on board with. Because this movie never delves into its own concept, which is the selling point, I left asking questions that make the concept feel silly. These aren’t really valid criticisms but I was taken out of the movie because of these questions. So how is unemployment at 1% because of this Purge? People would go around killing each other and then the next day you go back to work and everything is fine? NO, this whole night would have a catastrophic impact on the economy. Just imagine walking into work the next day and getting called into your bosses office after you tried to kill him the night before. If the movie had gone more in-depth and explored this concept and its themes and consequences then I could believe it all and be on board. A movie defines its own rules and decides what’s plausible and realistic in that universe but this movie just seems to fall flat because of its own logic. This is all nitpicking really but had they sucked me into the story and scared me then I wouldn’t be asking questions about the concept. Just have the characters ask these questions or make some sort of parallels to the consequences of the Purge and then I’d buy it all. I did actually find the ending slightly interesting as a certain theme was realized but even that felt predictable.
While giving a few scares and a marginally interesting concept, The Purge derails back to a very mediocre horror movie. Dumb characters, an incredibly predictable script, and few real scares will leave viewers feeling unsatisfied. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey give fine performances but their characters are given little to do or say that’s profound or interesting. There are some interesting and tense scenes so I admire the attempt. Some can surely have some fun with this movie but I can’t say it fully accomplishes its goal. I’d recommend to stay at home and watch V/H/S/2 instead. There will be far superior horror movies later in the summer (The Conjuring!). The scariest thing about The Purge is that it has already stolen $36 million dollars at the Box Office.