This 4th of July what better way to celebrate America’s independence than with a new Purge movie? After James DeMonaco’s original trilogy, ‘The First Purge’ sees the franchise return to the beginning of its narrative as audiences are exposed to the story of the initial experiment that would go on to become the annual purge! As well as being a prequel this installment is the first in the series not to be directed by DeMonaco, with Gerard McMurray taking over the reins, but would this change affect the film for better or worse?
This horror prequel has all the elements that fans have come to appreciate about this series; the now iconic sirens which bookend the twelve hour purge period, the creepy and unsettling array of masks worn by those participating, the multiple characters & individual storylines and the political angle for those wanting more than just a straight up slasher flick. The overall narrative feels like an amalgamation of both ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ and ‘The Purge: Election Year’ which is both a good and bad thing. It’s a tad unoriginal, especially when the endless potential of purge stories are considered, it might have been an idea to present a different kind of story compared to the ones we’ve seen before. Nonetheless, it’s executed well and it presents an interesting concept as audiences witness the reaction to the announcement and implementation of this radical social experiment.
The film holds a similar level of horror to its predecessors including jump scares, bloody violence and unsettling imagery of what those participating get up to on purge night. This might not be particularly scary in terms of the overall horror genre but by this stage in the series audiences should know what to expect and be content with the adrenaline fueled slasher style it goes for. It also features some good fight scenes and the action packed finale is a particular highlight which uses some clever techniques to make it effective in more than one way. As has become the norm in this series, we’re introduced to a range of characters at the beginning of the film and we witness many of their attempts to survive the night as the horror unfolds. The performances from the cast were good, it was a shame that some of the character arcs just seemed unlikely, or at least undeveloped. Marisa Tomei, who plays the creator of the social experiment is certainly underused. Despite this, our main characters are likeable and easy to back. Some humour is brought into the film late on courtesy of a particular character too, if only this could have been introduced sooner it might have been one of the films strongest elements.
Ultimately, ‘The First Purge’ continues the momentum of one of the most robust horror series in recent years. Balancing action packed horror sequences with engaging political commentary. It does retread familiar ground but it also succeeds in offering insight into the grander Purge narrative. However, if the series wishes to continue as strongly as it has done previously something fresh needs to be brought to the table in future sequels, prequels or spin-offs – there’s endless scope for this though so there’s no reason why this horror franchise can’t continue to thrive, sure, just remember all the good the purge does…
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 6.5/10
Question: How would you rank the films in ‘The Purge’ series?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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