Considering I had no fucking idea what this franchise was when I attended the 2014 Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando, it certainly intrigued me through its concept. The idea that everybody could do what they wanted for an entire 12 consecutive hours, thus creating mass anarchy, was just ingenious and I wanted to know more. For the meantime, I settled wondering the streets of The Purge Scare-Zone being surrounded by crazy people wearing sinister masks and wielding chainsaws as they chanted “Purge!” over and over again. It was certainly an experience like no other!
So upon watching The Purge I was well and truly disappointed. Hence the lack of a review. I can basically sum-up my experience in one short paragraph. It lacked any real substance, concentrating on all the wrong things, and ultimately produced an annoying experience where I screamed at really retarded (and frankly despised) characters throughout. The Purge set up one of the greatest concepts within the Horror genre and yet decided to avoid showing us it, making me utterly confused as I craved to see all the cool shit and not some Suburban rich family getting themselves caught up in a skirmish because of ridiculous circumstances (and the less said about the Son the better).
Thank fuck The Purge: Anarchy (a sequel produced a mere year after the first film) rectified everything, granting me the film I wanted to see originally. If the first film was tamed then its sequel was certainly a creature of chaos released from its chains. It didn’t hold back and really wanted to go into full detail as to what the Purge entails, not to mention bring forward some new juicy developments.
No longer were we just fixed in one house like we’re experiencing a really shoddy (if sometimes impressive) slasher-movie and instead are experiencing a well-rounded, multi-environment, bloodshed as we end up smack bang in the middle of the gory action and everyone is in on it and nobody is safe. One of the elements I simply love the most about this film compared to its predecessor is the visual representation of the Purge and what lengths different people went to. You have the street-level violence and that goes to some horrific lengths as you witness what normal people are capable of if you just turned round and said, “Do what the fuck you want, there’s no consequence.”
There’s people left, right, and centre trying to kill the rest of Los Angeles and it becomes really intense to watch because everything is unexpected, and yet, you want to delve further into this disturbed future. And I think that’s another thing that gives The Purge series extra credit, it’s supposed to be a nearby future in which the Government has been overthrown by a demented order known as The New Founding Fathers, in which they’ve created the Purge as a means of stabilising the economy. Many people take this concept light-heartedly and simple enjoy what the extreme idea has to offer in terms of fun storytelling, but on the other-hand you have to wonder whether or not we’re not so far from becoming like this.
Could it be possible that the rich and powerful could try and control the crime-rate and the population rate by devising a night of pure massacre, thereby allowing anything to happen in order to stimulate aggression and wipe-out the lowest demeanour? I think the political questions The Purge films raise are really interesting and grants them further depth, making them far more sophisticated instead of just being dumb violent movies.
The corruption starts to come into play within The Purge: Anarchy as the Anti-Purge group pose the question that “only the lower classes perish during the Purge”, meaning its The Founding Fathers clear intention to eradicate the riff-raff to make themselves more profit.
This idea is pushed further by the implications of the Purge being about money, and simply fulfilling sick-twisted fantasies. It’s a known fact that in real-life the rich find strange ways to pleasure themselves because they get bored and wish to experiment via money (usually resorting to sexual activities). Here it’s taken to the extreme of murder. What I love about these films is the implication that no matter how twisted the normal, everyday guy can become the rich will always have that extra edge for being even more twisted and psychotic, made worse by them treating the Purge like some kind of sick hobby or pass-time.
The everyday people just kill for the sake of killing, resorting to almost animalistic behavioural patterns, but the rich hold special parties, or events, or even lure the innocent to their own homes, and then commence horrific torture activities. One of the most unsettling scenes within The Purge: Anarchy goes to seeing a poor old guy accepting a huge sum of money for his family in return for giving his body to a rich family on Purge night.
We never see what the family do to him but considering we see the image of them standing around him wielding machetes, and their expensive furniture covered up with sheets of plastic, it’s fair to say that “show don’t tell” is used to perfection as my mind shudders to think of the graphic ways they probably killed him for their own sick pleasure.
I think it’s fucking annoying, and disgusting, that the rich gets away with using the Purge to satisfy their sick mind games, ultimately setting events up that keeps them totally safe so that they can freely claim the lives of lesser folk. The worst part is they use a gang to transfer their victims, to which the gang even admits that they’re doing it for the money. These sickening bastards are kidnapping people like themselves and handing them over to rich sickos to be butchered just to get some cash. Wow, this future is fucked-up beyond recognition.
One of the better aspects of The Purge: Anarchy is the characters. The characters are so much better than its predecessor, granting us an abundance of different personalities who are forced to come together in order to survive. Although the returning trait of having an annoying character question everything and speak out their views of “Purging is bad” does get a little annoying at times (although not nearly as frustrating as within The Purge, in which I wanted to fucking murder the Son myself, never mind leaving him to the Purgers).
Leo (played fantastically by Frank Grillo) is without a doubt the best character within the film as he shows off his total badass self throughout the narrative, coming across as a realistic action hero who is able to tackle a difficult situation without feeling overpowered. He’s not indestructible but you get the impression he’s been in a few “life and death” situations before in his line of work, and so you’re confident he can take out every arsehole that’s trying to kill him. I guess his story-arc is the most promising throughout as he’s conflicted by his past, i.e. his son being killed in a drink-driving accident, to which the driver was never punished due to a technicality within the law-system.
From the start you know this has become an obsession, to the point where it’s destroyed his marriage (but not past the point where she still cares about him and worries for his sanity if he chooses to go down the road he wishes to lead). Leo wants vengeance and when better to enact this act than on Purge night where the ramifications of his actions will hold no consequence.
His son will be avenged and he will surely sleep better at night upon justice being served. But the nagging questions rise throughout as to whether or not he should kill the man or not, which at first is done rather annoyingly and you hate the characters in-question for intruding on his personal-space and judging Leo when they have no fucking idea what this vendetta means to him on a personal level.
But of course it’s that age-old-question of “killing won’t bring your loved one back, nor will it fill the void they left behind”. I think they could’ve represented this argument a lot better but it still gets the point across all the same. In the meantime Leo is distracted at every turn as he stumbles upon a bunch of different characters and it becomes his duty to protect them against the dangerous odds surrounding them at every turn. One of the reoccurring threats comes with the military who begin rounding up civilians from the poorer sections of the city, bringing you to realise that The New Founding Fathers are literally using the Purge for their own corrupt agenda.
Things get really intense upon the group finding their way to a supposed safe-haven but it quickly turns to shit as family members turn on family members, shots are fired, blood is split, and some rather inner, bitter anger surfaces on the worst night of the year. Also, Leo becomes really pissed when one of the group’s members tricked him into getting them to this place for the sake of protecting her daughter. Yes, it was a clever thing to do because (let’s face it) she was trying to do right for her daughter by whatever means, but it’s still a dick move whichever way you look at it.
But things get worse for them during the climax of the film as Leo and the gang are kidnapped and placed within the most disturbing auction devised by man, in which they are pawned-off by rich psychotics in a game of “cat and mouse”. Luckily, Leo manages to turn the tables on these fuckers and it’s always satisfying to watch as the rich get a taste of their own medicine. It’s made even more glorious when the Anti-Purge group arrives to slaughter the rich in a desperate act of revolution to state “fuck you!” to The New Founding Fathers.
It’s a shame that a crucial scene was deleted in which showed the couple that hosted this sick event being mauled by savage dogs led by Purgers because it was a terrific turning point in showing “what comes around goes around”. But I think the point still stands all the same. Plus, the film still manages to end on a poetic note in which Leo manages to resist the urge of killing the man that took his son away from him and in doing so we the very same man defends Leo against the military as they tried one last attempt in taking out our protagonist after his constant interferences with their twisted schemes.
Honestly I don’t know what else there is to talk about. It’s a terrific experience which deploys one of my favourite movie concepts of all times. And I just really enjoyed how it repairs the damages made by The Purge, and not only that but actually exceeds what the first one tried to do, exploring new territories of demonstrating the chaotic and tragic nature of this fuck-up system that prays on the weak whilst the rich and powerful simply sit back and enjoy dipping their hands in the blood of the innocent, getting filthy rich in the process whilst satisfying a sick desire to abuse their wealth.
Seriously guys, if you enjoy the horror genre, don’t mind a bit of mindless violence, mixed together with some really interesting social commentary, then I’d say you’d really enjoy The Purge: Anarchy and all the madness and thrills it delivers. Just try not to think too deeply about the implications of “all crimes are legal” because that just makes me ponder at how petty some people can get on Purge night (i.e. taking drugs or drinking under the limit), or worse, how sickening people can get (I dread to think).