THE PURGE Movie Review
Gushing out the ole’ horror movie poop shoot this week is Ethan Hawke in The Purge! Director James DeMonaco’s sophmore effort also stars Lannister matriarch Lena Headey, Max Burkholder (bringing back JGL’s Third Rock from the Sun 90’s style), and Rhys Wakefield as a third string Heath Ledger. There are other people in this movie too, but who cares…anybody could have starred and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
The outlandish conceit of this film is that in the year 2022 America now has a yearly holiday in which violence, murder, and mayhem are legalized and encouraged for 12 hours. This allows people to release their aggression and eliminates all the weak and poor and sick and stupid. But the economy is flourishing! When lead security system sales manager James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his wife (Lena Headey) settle in to their highly secured McMansion to watch the events of Purge Day from their home theater, plans for a comfortable evening in are foiled by the morality of their tech genius middle-schooler. Quick to admit that his security systems are shit, it is up to Sandin and his family to protect their home as it comes under siege by sexy bloodthirsty yuppies.
Everything about this script was derivative or stupid and none of it was spectacularly acted (especially Adelaide Kane, yikes…beautiful girl, but maybe she should try modeling instead). There were some mildly thrilling fight scenes, but I wouldn’t say there was anything scary about The Purge. Try Straw Dogs or the recent French horror film Them for more frightening examples of home defense against domestic terrorism (heck, just watch Panic Room even!). It was humorous to me that morality would kick in riiiiiight at the most inconvenient moments for Mr. & Mrs. Sandin. The worst thing about this film, however, is that this extremely silly concept is played so seriously for most of the running time and then at the very end they decide to slip in a bit of fun. Why you gotta tease what could have been in the last moments of screen time? You could have had fun the whole time!! Seriously, Cabin in the Woods raised the bar way too high for anyone else it seems. On the positive side of things, the movie did move along real fast and there were 1-2 genuinely surprising moments. If you see one Ethan Hawke movie this week, see Before Midnight (I’m assuming it’s better), but if you see two Ethan Hawke movies this week then….I dunno…maybe Snow Falling on Cedars is on Netflix.
*Apparently Adelaide Kane was nominated for a Logie Award for “Most Popular New Female Talent” in 2008…perhaps she was just “off” for this one?