Since the hit horror cult film franchise THE PURGE has a fourth forthcoming sequel (said to be a prequel) coming out this summer called THE FIRST PURGE, and is currently being made into a possible Syfy TV series as well by Blumhouse Studios (the same studio that released the films, as well as GET OUT, their biggest hit to date) it's about past time for me to review the previous PURGE flicks. Here's some news about the upcoming PURGE TV pilot:
The Flickering Myth----The Purge TV series has its leads
THE PURGE (2013)----Directed/written by James DeMonaco. The first film to kick off the unofficial franchise is set in a future time after the government's been overthrown, and a new edict has been declared: that for one day out of the year,everyone will be allowed to roam and commit crimes for 24 hours, with the law turning a blind eye to everything. The Sandin family, who live in a nice upper-middle class neighborhood, have already gotten their house completely secured, with iron gates, cameras outside all over the house,and everything else. Mr. Sandin (Ethan Hawke, SINISTER, BROOKLYN'S FINEST) works for a major security company, so he's got his family the best protection money can buy. Mrs. Sandin (Lena Headey,THE BROTHERS GRIMM, the popular cable TV series GAME OF THRONES) says hi to the neighbors like it's going to be a nice normal evening, which it isn't. Some time later the boyfriend of the Sandin's daughter (Adelaide Kane) sneaks into their home to see her. What they don't know is that since it's Purge night, he's decided to spring a gun on the family, in order to get rid of the father. That dosen't go well, of course, and the family soon hunkers down for the night of terror they hope to make it through. Soon, a complete homeless-looking stranger (Edwin Hodge) comes running to their home after the shooting and the madness starts, begging to be let in so he won't be killed. Mr. Sandin's not letting anyone in,considering what's going on out there. Somehow, Sandin's young son (Max Burkholder) finally convinces them to let the stranger in, just as his dad's shutting the house down, because he dosen't want to see the man bumped off in front of them. The man makes it into their home but not long after, a mob of people with creepy-as-hell looking masks queue up in front of the Sandin's home, while their psycho leader (Rhys Wakefield) demands that the family release the man to them (turns out they were hunting him down to begin with.) The son has to literally plead for his dad to not do it, and the decision they make winds up causing their home to become target of this crazy, insane masked group roaming their 'hood with weapons. After that, the Sandins are forced to end up in an all-out blowout war against these sick creeps for their own survival.
I thought the film was okay (action-packed,suspenseful and all) but I didn't understand how the family or anyone else in the film never bothered to question the rationale behind the Purge, or what the point of it all was. It's alleged that it's just to let off stream, but it dosen't go that much more deeper than that. Some scenes were over the top, but all in all, it was a pretty good action horror thriller, for lack of a better term.
THE PURGE:ANARCHY: (2014)-----Directed/written by James DeMonaco. This sequel is set a few years later after the events in the first film, and this time it's set in the city. It starts with a young couple, Liz and Shane (real-life spouses Kiele Sanchez and Zach Gilford) running out to do some last-minute shopping before the Purge starts, and getting menaced by a group of dudes in creepy masks while just trying to leave the store. In the city, Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo, FANTASTIC BEASTS) is coming home from work, and gets hit on/accosted by her landlord. Both she and her daughter Cali (Zoe Soul) are getting prepared for the Purge by boarding up their doors and windows. Her father, Papa Rico (John Beasley) has made a kind of deal with the devil since he's terminally ill that will financially benefit Eva and his granddaughter. Even though they both beg and plead with him not to go through with it, he does---he basically offers himself up as a sacrifice for a perverted group of rich people's pleasure---it's weird, over the top and disturbing to see. A man (Frank Grillo,THE GREY) sits alone in his house loading up his gun---he's clearly arming himself to head out into the deranged madness of the Purge, for reasons known only to him. Meanwhile, Liz and Shane discover, to their horror, that their tires were slashed, and that they only have an hour or so to get home before said Purge starts, so they get to running. Eva and Cali board up their apartment, only to see their crazy landlord bust his way in, and threaten to sexually assault them both. He gets shot by an unseen shooter, while the two women race out into the night to get to a friend's house across town for safety. They get kidnapped by a roving band of armed dudes in military fatigues and vehicles, headed by a tough, creepy-looking dude manning a machine gun who calls himself Big Daddy (Jack Conley) and are basically being dragged off to be held prisoners by these mad band of crazy men. The stranger with the AK just happens to be in the vicinity, sees what's going on, dosen't want to get involved, but winds up saving both women and decides to help them get where they need to go. They wind up running into Shane and Liz, and soon all five of them,with the armed stranger as their unofficial guide/guardian, wind up having to make their way through the city, which is now nothing more than a dangerous,battle-scarred, and perilous landscape, with virtually no guarantee of making it to their destination alive, let alone in one piece.
Surprisingly, this sequel didn't get a lot of promotion when it came out---I only found out about it from seeing a trailer for it at the theatre, while waiting to see another movie. What I liked about this film was that it was more upfront about the race and class issues surrounding the Purge---the fact that people like the Sanchezes, being neither upper-middle class nor white, are pretty much left to fend for themselves during the Purge, and are more likely to be the first victims of it. There's also the subtext, which is bluntly stated out loud by a leader of an underground anti-Purge group (played by Michael K. Williams of THE WIRE fame) that the Purge is just basically a socially approved excuse for the rich to prey on and get rid of the poor and working-class. It was also more downbeat,violent, and suspenseful/scary, with of course, at least one or two over the top sequences that took me out of the film for a moment,even though they were clearly supposed to be satirical in that same over the top way. Anyway, I found it much better and more interesting than the first PURGE film, since it dealt with more issues and covered more ground,with way more interesting characters. Plus Frank Grillo's character was such a bad-ass as the reluctant hero (an anti-hero,actually) it's no big surprise his character wound up in the third PURGE flick, giving him a chance to show off more of said badassness.
THE PURGE:ELECTION YEAR (2016)-----Directed/written by James DeMonaco. I figured since this was made during one of the craziest election years in recent memory, that at least one person would be running around wearing a Trump mask somewhere in the film, but that didn't happen. This entry picks up 17 years after the second film, when Sgt Barnes (the bad-ass anti-hero stranger from the second PURGE flick, played by Frank Grillo again) is now the head of security for a senator-turned-presidential candidate Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) who's been the target of death threats ever since she's been openly running on promises to completely eliminate the Purge for good. Unfortunately, she's made a number of enemies who want her gone because of that, and so the night of the Purge, her home is attacked by unknown forces. Barnes puts his back-up plan into action, and soon he and the senator are fleeing like hell through the streets to find another hideout, since her security force was somehow mysteriously attacked and taken out. Turns out Roan has a very personal reason for wanting to see the Purge end: she herself was the only survivor of a Purge during which her entire family was murdered--and she's determined to see it end, death threats or no death threats. Meanwhile, tough, sarcastic grocery store owner Joe Dixon (Mykelti Williamson, currently playing a head of police one on my favorite cop shows, CHIGAGO P.D.) and his assistant, a young man named Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) secure the store, and prepare to hunker down on the roof to protect both their lives and property. Two women named Laney (a pre-GET OUT Betty Gabriel) and Dawn (Liza Colon-Zayas) have chosen to patrol the streets in an armored car during the Purge, picking up and providing shelter and transportation for anyone trapped out there who can't defend themselves. They're also armed, and wind up getting into skirmishes with anyone who comes at them with a full-on attack. There's also the fact that the Purge has become international---folks fly in from other countries to participate, like being on a safari---except they're hunting for people, not animals. Both Joe and Marcos wind up having to prepare themselves to fight off a group of AK-47 wielding women dressed in bridal gowns, one of whom Joe pissed off when he busted her stealing in his store earlier. That same pissed-off chick (Britney Mirabile) has apparently gotten more and more deranged as the night goes on,swinging her big fat gat around, and declares all-out war on Joe and Marcos, and their store. Gradually, of course, all the main characters eventually help save or run into each other, and join the cause to take down the evil people behind the Purge. The film gets even more whacked out,out there, and gory toward the end, but it's an incredibly intense journey to get there the entire way.
Liked this one too, even if some parts of were a little too over-the-top (a typical thing in this series) since it also took place in an urban area, had a diverse cast, and the same race-and-class issues. The "founding fathers", the people in power who started the Purge, are shown a lot more, and also shown to be corrupt power-mongers who act like deranged cult leaders ready to take down anyone or anything that keeps them from abusing that power. This third PURGE entry got even less promotion than the last one--I never even saw a trailer for it. I messed around and missed seeing it in the theatre, and saw it on DVD, unlike the first two, which I did see at the movies. There's also some DVD extras that have interviews with the director/writer in which he discusses wanting to deal with the race/class issues in this PURGE film, the satire in it, and there's also a piece on Grillo and his character (he did his own martial arts fight scenes in the film,too.) All three films are available on DVD or Blu-Ray, in a collection of the first two, and a collection featuring all three films on both formats,too.