Why The Purge Sucked
"The Purge" is a twisted thriller in which a new government, the self-proclaimed "New Founding Fathers" outline a new constitution that allots 12 hours each year on March 21st to be a crime ridden free for all. The idea is that every human harbors demons, feelings of hatred or inclinations to evil, and the Purge is meant to let those demons out; to "release the beast." What ends up happening is the rich use their resources to protect themselves and their families during the night of the Purge, while the poor and unfortunate and unworthy are left in the streets to fend for themselves.
We were ten minutes early and the theater was still packed when we walked in. It was the opening night, so we'd anticipated it being pretty crowded, but nothing like this. Most of the few empty seats had jackets and purses strewn across their leather cushions, a sure sign that they were being held, but we sure as hell weren't about to be neck breaking in the forward section so we walked up the steps hoping to get lucky.
"Is anybody sitting there?" we asked over and over as we crept up the softly lit stairs. Solemn nods all around. We walked across the length of the theater at the top and began our descent down the far side, fingers crossed. A young duo sat flanked by two empty seats. No jackets or purses.
"Are those seats taken?"
"Great! Would you mind moving over one, please?" It was the kind of question that nobody can say no to, a societal provision, proper movie etiquette. The two gentleman politely scooted over leaving empty seats side by side for me and my accomplice.
We scored our two seats right as the previews began. They were mediocre. I was ready for the feature presentation. The lights dimmed and classical music began to play. Gory shots from surveillance cameras showed brutal scenes of rampant street violence and crime. Gangs were beating and shooting people, homes were on fire, a woman was being raped. Text appeared, plainly describing a new America with a better economy and happier citizens. This was "The Purge". Much debate centers around the morality of allowing the Purge, but ultimately because of its positive impacts on the material measures of America's success as a country, most citizens are with the program.
None of the characters were particularly likable (they were pretty much all psycho, stupid, or both), and that "someone's standing over someone with a knife and someone else swoops in to save them" moment was overused to the point that it became disgustingly predictable.
The film follows one wealthy family on the night of the Purge as they lock down their home and are unluckily invaded by a group of violent law school students hunting a homeless man who a morally righteous young son allowed inside. Aside from its awkward pacing and poor acting, what really irked me about this movie was how glibly violent it was. None of the characters were particularly likable (they were pretty much all psycho, stupid, or both), and that "someone's standing over someone with a knife and someone else swoops in to save them" moment was overused to the point that it became disgustingly predictable.
Even still, with every death the entire theater erupted with applause and cheers. There was allegiance to neither the invaders nor the family. Whenever anybody died the audience was happy about it. It was utterly weird to be a part of. I was watching a cheesy, lame excuse of a murder flick and a theater full of my fellow Americans, my fellow humans, were eating it all up. "The Purge" was a movie about a fictional society who had let go of whatever modicum of morality it had left in favor of monetary returns, but what does it say about us if we're watching that shit as entertainment? Cheering for senseless, gory murder? The two guys who had so graciously moved over to let us sit were among the most enthused in the room at the gore before us. I couldn't help but wonder if, were the Purge real, would these two seemingly nice dudes turn into crazed murderers for 12 hours?
The movie shocked film analysts, opening at $36.4 million this weekend -- twice what they expected. Universal Studios brought home the bacon with the film, which only cost $3 million to produce. There are already talks of a sequel. There may be more demons lurking inside us that we're willing to admit, America.
I suggest you go see it yourself, and soon, while there will still be a large turnout, to see what I mean. You might be wanting to move to Australia afterwards. I don't want to end up locked in a country that, come 2022, is so desensitized that we're saying "Hey, maybe the Purge isn't such a bad idea. I mean, GDP will go up, right?"