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The Purge

The Purge

What She said:

She

I found the concept of The Purge to be so promising—the not too distant future presents a new America where there is very little crime and poverty.  Instead there are a lot of seemingly happy rich people living in big houses and driving fancy cars.  It's almost a utopia...almost.  These low crime and poverty rates are only achieved by instead providing the American public with one 12 hour window every year where they can pretty much go nuts and kill each other.  There are some rules applied to it, but no police, firefighters, EMTs, and hospital support.  The elite class seems to handle this yearly "purge" fairly easily.  They have the money to armor their homes and keep the riff raff out.  Plus, seriously, who even hates them?   Instead it's the middle to lower class that suffers.  Those who are safe at home, of course, have the opportunity to watch all the action as it unfolds on TV.  It's a scary, disturbing, and troubling concept, and I found the footage during the first few minutes of the movie to be jarring.

And so we're introduced to one of these elite families on the evening of the purge.  James is a successful salesman.  In fact, he has benefitted greatly from the purge, as his livelihood is selling security systems to protect people on the violent night.  He arrives home on a high, having just found out that he finished on top in sales.  Meanwhile, wife Mary seems obedient and comfortable in her role.  The couple have two kids—a teenage girl, Zoey, who is in that rebellious period where she hates everything about her existence, including her dad's opposition to her dating an 18 year old guy; and a younger boy, Charlie, who seems slightly off and spends most of his time building robots and hiding in his secret lair.  

When the purge commences the family hunkers down, but the tables turn when a snafu lets in an intruder and they find themselves squaring off with an invading clan of blood thirsty elitists.  James and fam spend the next hour running around their gigantic home trying to fend off the bad guys and survive the night.  

Warm Bodies

I love the idea here—the terror of an unpoliced world where complete melee can break out.  The filmmakers choose to use this concept to make a political statement about the "one percent" and the perils of a world led by "the haves."  Personally, I just chose to ignore it, as I'm not sure that a horror/thriller movie is really the place to try to create a serious satire.  It just doesn't work.  I tried to instead focus on the bare bones of this film.  Bad people are invading the family's home and trying to kill them.  Seeing James, Mary, and the kids run around the dark mansion with masked villains in chase is spooky, and there were a couple of moments where I genuinely jumped in my seat.  

That said, it certainly could have been scarier.  We don't know much about these privileged rich kids who go after the family, just that their initial motivation for attacking is the homeless fella who young Charlie allows to take refuge in the home.  But they're blood thirsty and seem to gain great pleasure from killing.  However, there are times when these prep school flunkies are kind of comical, rather than scary.  They're acting like children, skipping around the property as if playing.  I guess this could be construed as creepy, but it just seemed silly to me.  I think the film would also have benefitted from more chasing and killing, and less political statement.  And I think that will be most people's gripes with this movie.  The statement is not effective and so it's really just wasted time.  But I do think the main plot concept does work, even if there isn't room for much social commentary.  

I was slightly disappointed with this movie, as I thought it started pretty strong before it got up on its soapbox.  But if you're able to ignore the politics, then The Purge does stand on two legs as a thriller.

Thumbs half up.

Warm Bodies

What He said:

He

Ya gotta love the future. They come up with the craziest shit in the future. Whether it’s flying cars, goofy clothing, or totalitarian governments, there is usually something zany going on there. The Purge is no different.  The premise of the movie is a society that has virtually no unemployment and no crime. This is all made possible due to a 12-hour period referred to as the Purge. During this time period, nothing – and I do mean nothing – is illegal. The idea is that it allows people to get out all of their aggression at once, ensuring peace during the rest of the year. That certainly sounds like an interesting enough premise for a horror movie.

Warm Bodies

At the center of the story is the Sandin family. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a salesman for a high-end security company that specializes in home security systems designed specifically to handle whatever it is the Purge throws at them. Only very wealthy people can afford the systems James’ company sells. James was the leading salesman for his company this past year. His wife Mary seems to the model housewife. She (Lena Heady) appears to be active in her kids’ lives and keeps the house in order. Their daughter Zoey is your typical moody – if not outright miserable – teenage girl who has a bad relationship with at least one of her parents. She (Adelaide) despises her father because he has forbidden her from seeing her boyfriend, who is an older guy. Charlie is an awkward, anti-social, but seemingly caring young kid. You don’t know what to make of him (Max Burkholder) at first, but he seems like a really good kid.

Fast-forward to the night of the Purge and the Sandin’s lockdown their house for the annual event. As time passes on, a homeless man wanders into the Sandin’s community. This is foreign territory for the rich neighborhood. Most of the events of the Purge take place in poor urban environments. For this reason, when Charlie actually witnesses this guy running for his life in his neighborhood, he takes pity upon him and deactivates the security system; allowing the man to enter their home. A lot of chaos and confusion ensues. Things get worse when the people chasing the man show up and know he’s inside the Sandin’s home. They give James an ultimatum: send the man outside or they are coming in and will kill him and his family for helping the homeless man. More chaos ensues.

Warm Bodies

The premise not only sounds terrifying, but brings about all kinds of moral issues, which is good. It’s not a bad thing when a movie makes you think. Forget whether you are against the idea of the Purge or not. The reality of the situation for these characters is that it exists. The reality is there is a man who was being chased by a bunch of killers and that man is now in their home. And truth-be-told, I did find it pretty intense when the group of masked killers finally break into their home and force them to fight for their lives (sorry for the minor spoiler, but it is pretty obvious it’s going to happen).

But that actually brings me to one of the issues I have with the movie. The rich people in this story spend insane amounts of money to ensure they are safe in their homes, but the bad guys break in rather easily. It was a little too convenient.
I also found myself asking, “Why don’t they just go on vacation in another country during the Purge?” A few obvious things like that seemed to be overlooked.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the movie. It was something I hadn’t seen and I was definitely looking for a horror flick to watch, especially this time of year. It was a decent enough movie. The critics were a little harsh on it.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 16, 2013.

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