31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2017, Night #27 – The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

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Director: James DeMonaco

Writer(s): James DeMonaco

Studio/Distributor: Universal Pictures

Budget: $9m

Box Office: $111.9m

Release Date: 18 July, 2014

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 56%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Frank Grillo – Sergeant

Carmen Ejogo – Eva Sanchez

Zach Gilford – Shane

Kiele Sanchez – Liz

Zoe Soul – Cali

Justina Machado – Tanya

John Beasey – Papa Rico

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

Three groups of people intertwine and are left stranded in the streets on Purge Night, trying to survive the chaos and violence that occurs.

Inertia’s Insight

With such an incredibly unique idea, The Purge was crying out for a sequel. The first film explored the themes of this fictitious (and altogether believable) event in a confined space, seeing it from the perspective of a small – and rich – family. As teased in The Purge by Rhys Wakefield’s psychotic leader, the rich were out to kill the poor, those they saw as a blight on society.

This brilliant concept from James DeMonaco threw out the potential for so many perspectives, particularly for the action to take to the streets outside the confines of a seemingly safe house. And that’s exactly where Anarchy takes us – out in to the middle of it all, to witness the brave and the barbaric; the meanest and the macabre of those who see Purge Night as their night to carry out their darkest fantasies.

Let’s get as political as we’re ever going to get in one sentence: with Trump in charge, this doesn’t seem all that far away. What makes this film so scary is its potential. We already see the propensity for mass killings in America; their sanity-defying faith in firearms and the NRA’s rule over blinded politicians is genuinely frightening. In a country that permits it legal to wonder the streets with a firearm, they wonder why they have so many incidents? If Trump were to pass the Purge now, the streets would be filled with exactly the kind of people we see in this film.

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Taking the action to the streets, the film centers on three sets of people whose lives become intertwined, dependent on each other to survive the night. Sergeant, the mysterious of them all, heads out on Purge night in a souped-up car. For some time we’re questioning his motivations, but it’s obvious there’s a human element to him that is missing in most of the other masked maniacs. Is he an anti-Purge vigilante? A man out for revenge? Or is he just as bad as everyone else?

DeMonaco crafts a good set of characters with enough of a personality clash to cause friction in their fight for survival. Undoubtedly Sergeant is the leader of this unlikely group, with Eva and Cali on the run after their apartment block is targeted by a group of mercenaries, Shane and Liz left adrift in the city after their car is sabotaged. Each with their own agenda, they are led across town, ducking and diving the very worst of what the night has to offer, as well as what appears to be a government sanctioned truck with some heavy artillery. They encounter problem after problem, culminating in another example of how the rich would treat a night like the Purge.

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That noise to signal the start of the Purge is so unsettling, reminiscent of an air raid siren. Coupled with the finality of the emergency broadcast on all television stations just spells dystopia. In the first film, the prosperity the family made from the Purge made it seem like a utopia; here we see the grisly fallout, the reality behind some politician’s grand idea.

The montage when the Purge commences is brilliant, and only a snippet of the madness that’s out there on that night. The masks that people wear are incredibly effective. Despite the fact that for 12 hours there is no law, people would still go out seeking anonymity by wearing a mask. But they would also wear a mask as an identity, displaying their alter ego and replicating a slasher villain.

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The exploration of multiple storylines on this Purge night also gives us a glimpse of the resistance, an anti-Purge movement that, whilst ironically using the Purge to prevent people from purging, are a necessary inclusion in to the story line. With such a contentious event as the Purge, there would undoubtedly be facets of society vehemently opposed to the night, doing whatever it takes to educate people. The only gripe I have with this film is that the resistance aren’t used more, though when you see it in the context of Election Year, it kind of makes sense.

There’s no doubt the film is poised for political commentary, and the government cleansing of the projects is a great sub-plot that serves to set up the sequel Election Year. The film is perfectly paced, peppered with subtext but still providing the thrills and spills that would draw audiences. The ending is particularly poignant, and it’s a pleasure to see Sergeant explored in Election Year. A solid sequel from DeMonaco.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★★★

Trivia

  • The Purge is a day before the spring equinox. Spring is a symbol for rebirth and cleansing
  • The film takes place in 2023
  • The sergeant’s name, not heard in the film, is Leo Grimes

Quotes

NARRATOR: This is not a test. This is your emergency broadcast system announcing the commencement of the Annual Purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government.


Tomorrow: Night #28 – 28 Weeks Later (2007)

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