REVIEW: The Purge

12 06 2013

The PurgeThe amateur sociologist in me finds plenty to love about “The Purge.”  Though not without its holes, the film is aiming at some deep social commentary about the causes of our seemingly never-ending modern woes.  It posits a quasi-utopian 2022 where unemployment and crime have virtually disappeared thanks to a single night called The Purge where nothing is illegal for 12 hours.  Robbery, assault, and even murder are all acceptable because it provides an opportunity for society to unleash all its pent-up anger.

Sound a little elementary to you?  All society needs to do to achieve harmony is get out some rage?  That’s because it is.  Writer/director James DeMonaco has a brilliant concept, but it probably needed a little bit more time to be developed.  For example, for all the psychological good The Purge supposedly does, could you really go to work the next day if your boss tried to kill you as if nothing happened?

Yet while the oversimplification allows for plot holes aplenty, it also allows the film’s message to (hopefully) reach the average horror film viewer, normally not accustomed to anything deep from the genre.  Not to bash an entire class of movies, but horror generally waters down to small universes where only the moral stave off their doom.  “The Purge” is not particularly subversive, but it’s closer to Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” than it is to “Evil Dead.”

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