I have to admit I wasn’t exactly desperate to go and see The Purge, but was dragged along by my horror genre loving daughter. The concept sounded a bit lame, and the image of the mask and wearer being used on the promotional material made me groan a little.
However, I have to admit this film put me on edge for a good 85 minutes (I’m sure films used to have to be at least 90 minutes to be called a ‘film’). The concept is a 12 hour slot once a year for anyone who wishes to commit a crime, such as vengeance murder, without punishment. As well as purging their own soul the notion is that this annual event purges the country of crime for the rest of the year. It may be a little far fetched as a solution to national crime but it set up the required paranoia and fear to stage the film.
Films that prey on basic human fears – such as protecting children, and unpredictable but eloquent psychotic characters are always scarier to me than anything supernatural/alien. American houses are also pretty scary as they are always way too big with too many entry points. I’m not sure the masks were completely necessary (as the main evil guy was scarier without it), but they were definitely a little freaky.
There were some nice touches here, red-herring foreshadowing and a clever method to get some important ‘Paranormal Activity’ wobbly camera action. There were a couple of unexpected twists and deaths, but way too much use of ‘the person who hasn’t been around for a while suddenly re-appearing to save the day at the last moment’ set piece.
The moral of the film: if you are going to lock down your house with a security system for an annual purge don’t let your child know the PIN number to deactivate it.