In a rare case of reverse summer blockbuster mania, hype has arisen all over in anticipation of the comparatively small future thriller flick, The Purge, which comes out on Friday.
Despite the tepid critical response and the sweaty execution, The Purge seems to satisfy society’s want for satirical carnage.
Apparently, civilized society needs a little self-imposed dooming every now and then.
The Purge is a speculation on what would happen if all crimes were legal and all utility services shut down for half a day. This story, needless to say, is set in a dystopian future where crime has run rampant. Is there any other kind of future portrayed in recent cinema history? As is the wont of violent, dark, films about the future, social commentary is embedded into the high concept of The Purge. “Tonight is a release …” the protagonist-played without irony by Ethan Hawke- says in the trailer. “… For the violence and hate that people keep up inside them.”
As if a perfectly okay sci-fi bloodfest needed to explicitly state its dark perspective on society. Really, any number of films can be compared to this one, and none of them had a take as heavey handed as this one. There were exploitation films like Wild in the Streets, which featured a city wide acid trip (highly recommended viewing) that sought to look at a futuristic society marred by crime. Robocop, the original R rated film for 13-year-old boys, featured scenes wherein the police force is shut down, and the bad guys have a good lark during a looting session. Frankly, The Purge is a home invasion film, and thus is essentially an all too serious looking Home Alone.
I have not seen The Purge, but I can guarantee you it will be over the top. Ethan Hawke will suddenly scream loudly at somebody. Later, he will cry. Then, he will hug his kids while stepping on a ruffian’s throat. Audiences will laugh at the action taking place on screen. Whether or not the humor is intentional is unclear at this point in time.