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DIRECTOR: James DeMonaco
CAST: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Rhys Wakefield, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
I COULD warn everyone to stay away from this nauseating and psychologically disturbing movie, but that would only intrigue them more. Heck, if I saw the trailer, I’d be intrigued too, especially if I was a teenager. Let’s be honest, they love macabre exploits.
The year is 2022 in a new US. Unemployment is at one percent and crime at an all-time low. Sounds idyllic until the reality of how it is achieved comes to light.
For one night a year, citizens purge themselves of their anger and prejudice; be it by stealing, killing or raping. And it is legal.
When you peel back the layers of the violent killing spree, it is clear that the “reborn nation” is merely getting rid of its baggage – those who are below the acceptable social strata and a burden to the economy. But that’s a political analysis that isn’t fully explored; it is merely hinted at.
At the heart of this morally bankrupt act are the Sandin family. Nestled in San Francisco, James (Hawke) has made a killing out of selling home security systems designed specifically for the purge. Mary (Headey) plays the dutiful wife and mom to daughter Zoey (Kane), who is in that rebellious teenage phase, and son Charlie (Burkholder), who is confused by the need for the senseless acts of violence.
With the annual purge about to start, James initiates the lock down and tells his family every-thing will be okay. But it isn’t.
Zoey’s boyfriend has snuck into their home to finally have his moment with her controlling father. Meanwhile, Charlie, in a moment of naiveté, disarms the security to let in an all-bloodied and terrified African-American on the run.
This act opens the floodgates to terror and bloodshed and forces the peace-loving Sandins to take a moral stand and rethink their rose-tinted view of the purge.
Hawke and Headey deliver sterling performances as parents forced to push the boundaries of their own morality to save their family. Wakefield (pictured) is brilliant as the menacing leader of the group hunting the black man.
The story is unsettling. It is sickening to watch the gun-toting youngsters swing their machetes as if it they were off to some friendly Halloween party.
There is a fine line between brilliance and horrifying, and DeMonaco tips the scales towards the latter.
Brace yourself for bloodshed, rage, confusion and sheer terror. Even more frightening, a sequel is in the offing. Yikes!
If you enjoyed the Saw and Hostel franchise you will enjoy the twisted story to this movie.