Film Reviews

Preview: The Purge Election Year

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Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo

Director: James DeMonaco

You’d be forgiven for rejecting this entry into the franchise as being a further cash in, but there’s something about this film that kind of struck me.

In this chapter, a US senator wants to make political moves to abolish the Purge, having lost her family to the violence 18 years before. But she has made powerful enemies, who plan to assassinate her during the Purge this year. When her own staff betray her, she goes on the run with her loyal head of security. When a small business owner helps her, she teams up with him and his friends to survive.

As a film, it functions really well as a horror, with plenty of nightmare images to give you chills up your spine, and the odd jump scare. It also has some cheesy one liners, and the performances are pretty good. It’s pretty fun, actually.

Horror films in any generation are about the things that people are afraid of at the time. The famous example of this is the original Japanese Godzilla film being about the bombs dropped during the Second World War. But you can look at any film as a barometer of the major social concerns. So I feel like although many people might turn their noses up at a “low brow” film like this, it’s actually kind of interesting in a film history context, or perhaps social context. These films have been so popular that they have made three of them, and in this one, there’s plenty of talk about how the Purge is the government not caring about or actually targeting the little guy. The horror in this film is the government, the upper classes and other people. But it’s not veiled in any way or symbolic, it’s literal. And in this film, all about an election between a blonde and a crazy, wealthy white guy who courts anarchy and hires Nazi thugs to hunt his enemies… I mean, it’s not a metaphor, it’s openly about how America, and perhaps other parts of the world, see the future. OK, so maybe it’s not high art, but something about this film feels important to me, it speaks to a lot of people and it shows that this is what we’re afraid of, what’s on our mind right now.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be dismissed as simply another violent horror film.

See It If: you like the previous Purge entries, or if you’re looking for a fun action/horror. It’s entertaining.

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