The Purge: Survive the Night (2013)

Posted: June 7, 2013 in Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
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the-purge-poster01Prior to the year 2022, crime, poverty and social dysfunction had gotten out of control. Enter the Purge. James Sandin, a successful provider of home security systems, returns home and prepares his family for the annual event. His daughter, Zoey, sneaks away her boyfriend, while his son, Charlie, tries to scare his mother with his upgraded toy spy car. Barely having enough time to get through dinner, the family packs up and heads to their security control room. Once the alarms sound, James engages the security system and locks down the house. Sneaking away, Zoey returns to her room to find that her boyfriend, Henry, snuck into the house before they locked it down but has an ulterior motive to talk to her father about their relationship. As the family has divided throughout the house, Charlie notices an injured man hobbling on the street and opens the security just long enough to let him in. Catching the attention of a roving gang, the family is left with a choice of throwing the man to the wolves or sacrificing themselves in the process.

Starring: Ethan Hawke (James Sardin), Lena Headey (Mary Sandin), Max Burkholder (Charlie Sandin), Adelaide Kane (Zoey Sandin), Edwin Hodge (Bloody Stranger), Rhys Wakefield (Polie Stranger), Tony Oller (Henry), Arija Bareikis (Grace Ferrin), Tom Yi (Mr. Cali), Chris Mulkey (Mr. Halverson), Tisha French (Mrs. Halverson), Dana Bunch (Mr. Ferrin), Peter Gvozdas (Dr. Peter Buynak)

True to the thriller theme, the cast (in general) does an okay job with maintaining the suspense and highlighting the stress of each scene. Hawke may be the lead actor, but it is really Wakefield that steals the show. Randomly switching between seriousness and insane chuckling, Wakefield represents a sinister character similar to Batman’s Joker. Heady and Kane seem to be a little overdramatic even in the face of life or death danger, which can take away from the enjoyment of some of their scenes.

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James DeMonaco looked to set up a premise of a society that refocused their policies around the idea of purging one’s anger, aggression and sins. The Purge came about when the government decided to take more dramatic action to reduce their all too common social problems. Bringing about a night of no rules and no consequences was thought to bring people a chance to release their anger and aggression, though some thought that it allowed the haves to overpower the have nots. With Charlie unable to let the injured man stumble in the streets, he unwittingly unleashed the hell upon his family. Between the mob outside, a determined Henry looking to challenge James and an unknown stranger hiding somewhere in the house, the Sandin family was in for a fight for survival.

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The commentary on human nature is definitely the focus of the film. While society, in general, seemed to embrace the idea of a rules-free night, there were those who just wanted to survive and live in peace. That was the significant difference that was portrayed through Charlie, though he was also made out to be a little mentally off in the way he was introduced. James, on the other hand, preaches his appraisal of the Purge but is faced with the negative consequences when he is betrayed by his own sense of security. The mob’s obsession with killing the injured man was a direct commentary on their belief of socio-economic cleansing. There seems to be an overwhelming sentiment that people will abuse the opportunity to engage their baser instincts if it’s presented.

The Purge is a thrilling story but it also fails from some mediocre acting, unexplained ridiculous behavior from its female cast members and overly obvious social commentary.

Dan’s Rating: 2.0/5

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