The Purge: A Film Review

As soon as I saw the advert for new horror flick ‘The Purge’, I knew it was something I just had to see. After studying Psychology as a degree, I came to the conclusion that human beings are much darker than they let on. What was it Albert Camus said? “Man is the only creature who refuses to believe what he is.” That is exactly what this film addresses. Much like the book ‘Haunted’ by Chuck Palahniuk, the writer of ‘Fight Club’, this film delves into those hidden desires we all possess. With the tagline “One Night A Year, All Crime Is Legal”, the film entertains the idea that we all possess an inner beast that is just waiting to be unleashed.

The film began with quite a lot of content shown in the trailer, so there were no surprises there. Without spoiling too much of the plot, we’re presented with a family whom are the envy of their neighbourhood. Ethan Hawke plays the Husband/Father that has gone into business to bring the best home security systems for this very night, which has led to the family being rich and living in a lovely big house. From one conversation between Lena Headey, who plays the Wife/Mother, and a neighbour you get the vibe that jealousy is present and tensions high. We all know how horror films go and so here I had suspicions about the motives of this “friendly” neighbour who was giving out free cookies, which always seems to happen in films but never in real-life. These were quickly dispelled as the night played out, as it seems the family are on a youth gang’s hit list of “Purge Victims.” What I will tell you is, you will find yourself screaming at the screen as a number of characters are completely stupid and essentially bring about a bloodbath. Although the conclusion to the movie wasn’t what I expected, there were a number of jumpy moments and the Director played well on the atmosphere surrounding the event.

If you look at underlying themes to the film, I believe there to be references to white middle-class individuals. The family in question are all white and from a white collar background, whilst the person seeking shelter is a black male. All of the group in pursuit of their victim are also white, as well as their neighbours, which leads me to wonder whether this would happen in today’s society? There has always been a lot of tension between ethnic groups in the UK and this rings truer than ever today. If, given the chance, people were allowed to murder people I don’t even think they’d choose individuals who had personally angered them or hurt them in some way. I think groups of like-minded people would get together and pick off the weakest of us. Who are deemed to be the most vulnerable? Ethnic minority groups, of course. Animals have evolved in accordance with the term “survival of the fittest” and it frightens me to think about how this would play out in modern day life if ‘The Purge’ were real.

As well as being a thoroughly entertaining film, and a great addition to the thriller genre, the movie poses questions that really need to be addressed. Why do people harbour so much hate? Where does all of this hostility come from? And once the seal of restraint breaks, which probably won’t be too far in the future, will society ever be the same again?

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