“Things like this don’t happen in neighbourhoods like ours…”
Welcome to a tale of crime and punishment, a sort of Hunger Games for adults where in a near future the government of the USA has decreed that each year on one day all crime is permitted for a 12-hour period.
Called The Purge, this session of approved anarchy where there are no laws and no emergency services is designed as a release which allows people to channel their murderous dark side and attack whoever they want.
This means that no one is safe and masked gangs roam the streets killing anyone they come across.
Unless you’re lucky enough to afford a full home security system like James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) – who has got rich selling such home defence packages – you’d better hide somewhere or find a weapon with which to protect yourself.
The Purge’s concept is a strong one, if hopefully a little far- fetched, and director James DeMonaco has a lot of fun putting Sandrin and his family – wife Mary (Lena Headey), young son Charlie (Max Burkholder) and teen daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) – through a night of hell.
The family think they are safe in their high-tech protected luxury home but when Charlie lets a desperate homeless man (Edwin ‘All The Boys Love Mandy Lane’ Hodge) take sanctuary within their walls, it draws the attention of a group of masked lunatics led by a chilling, polite and ruthless rich kid psycho (Rhys Wakefield).
The violence, when it comes – and it does – is seriously brutal, pushing the limits of a 15 rated movie. There is some wry social commentary at work here, too, which lifts The Purge from just being another nasty low budget effort and adds enough dystopian ‘what would you do?’ dilemma to keep you busy discussing it afterwards.
Everything is well put together and boosted by some nifty additions such as a first-person feed from a freaky radio controlled unit – a one red-eyed doll on tank tracks built by Charlie.
The cast goes about its bloody business with gusto and all are good even if Wakeman steals the show with his icy baddy.
If you can stand the violent content, then The Purge is a strong dark thriller with an interesting premise and decent scares.
The notion of a society with no law, even if it is only for a brief period, is actually is actually a sight more terrifying than any ghosts and ghouls efforts you might see this year.