“This night allows people a release; from all the hatred and violence inside of them”, says lead character James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) in silver screen thriller The Purge.
It’s 2022. Economic crises, crime and unemployment have been quelled due to the government’s ‘brilliant idea’ to allow a 12-hour window for all crimes (which include murder, theft and even rape) to be legitimate and take place with no repercussions.
Capitalizing on his country’s unique solution, sole breadwinner James runs a business selling the best security system to protect homes from the annual purging – no, not self-induced vomiting, but the twisted idea of cleansing their sin.
Just when the all-American Sandin family thinks it’s going to be another ordinary night after they engage their security system and prepare for the purge, James’ son Charlie (Max Burkholder) decides to allow a homeless man into his home to save him from any potential homicide. Charlie’s bold decision however, is what ignites the fire to what will be an eventful 12 hours. Sandin is faced with the task of keeping the intruder safe from a group of masked killers, who threaten to kill his family as well, if they do not turn over the ‘man who is destined for death’.
Interested yet? Hawke and producer Jason Blum, who was also behind the Paranormal Activity franchise, team up again after the success of Sinister (2012), so you can expect top-notch suspense and slashing of the highest order.
The Purge is somewhat similar to The Strangers (2008), a thriller which also focused on people in a house being terrorized by unknown assailants. But this movie is far more unpredictable. While I can confidently say that you will be able to foresee a certain sequence – just like I did – I guarantee you will not guess more. Such are the twists and turns in this flick.
Then again, what is the movie without its performers? Much was expected of lead actor Hawke, but his performance was forgettable. One character that did most of the kicking and screaming in this movie was actress Lena Headey, best known as Cersei Lannister on hit TV series Game of Thrones. Playing the damsel in distress in a motherly way is something that Headey did significantly well. Burkholder revelled in his first major motion picture and his role was pivotal to the plot, while Edwin Hodge, playing the intruder marked for death, seemed underutilized.
Skeptics of such ‘home-invasion’ movies may point to the cool critical response to this movie. Despite this, I still recommend this film as it definitely is a breath of fresh air from the romance and science fiction invading our screens lately.