THERE’S a lot more purging going on in this inevitable sequel to last year’s surprise horror hit The Purge.

Expanding the parameters of the low-budget original by taking the action out into the streets, The Purge: Anarchy efficiently exploits its highconcept premise while delivering far more visceral thrills than its predecessor. A new franchise seems to have been born.

Set 10 years in the future, the film, written and directed by James DeMonaco (as was the original), again takes place during the annual Purge, a state-sanctioned 12-hour period in which citizens are allowed to commit heinous crimes with no fear of punishment.

Created to allow people to indulge their basest instincts and keep the crime rate down the rest of the year, participants are urged to “have a good cleanse”, while those seeking shelter from the nihilistic mayhem advise each other to “stay safe”.

The latter is exactly what most of the featured main characters are trying to do, including single mother Eva (Carmen Ejogo), her feisty 16-year-old daughter Cali (Zoe Soul) and bickering married couple Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez).

The exception is Leo (Frank Grillo), a loner with an armour-plated car and weaponry, who heads out into the night for reasons of his own.

Leo becomes the reluctant and unlikely protector of the other four when they find themselves trapped outside during the violence-filled night.

They not only must avoid the various ordinary citizens participating in the mayhem, including a scarily masked gang of young miscreants, but also the groups of black uniform-clad paramilitary types who massacre victims from the backs of huge trucks using automatic weapons.

After Leo’s car becomes disabled, the group are forced to make their way on foot through the mean streets to the safe home of Eva’s employer.

While the first film was essentially an elaborate home-invasion thriller, this follow-up more closely resembles a John Carpenter-style action movie (DeMonaco scripted the Assault on Precinct 13 remake) with its plethora of well-staged, ultra-violent set pieces. And while character development is clearly not a high priority, the principal figures are a generally engaging and sympathetic lot, with Grillo’s steely Leo particularly intriguing.

The film expands on the original premise by introducing racial and class-conscious themes into the storyline.

Adding to the tense atmosphere is Nathan Whitehead’s excellent electronic music score. – Hollywood Reporter

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