Review by Thomas Cowley
The first “Purge” received some flak for proposing an interesting movie concept, and then showing a movie without that very concept. Apparently there was a mix up during filming and the original script detailing country-wide, guilt free murder and crime was replaced by the last 30 minutes of “Straw Dogs”. Fortunately the sequel, mistakenly titled “The Purge: Anarchy” attempts to remedy that complaint. Unfortunately the result is less high stakes horror and more utter boredom.
The two biggest factors that lead to the disappointment that is “The Purge: Anarchy” are story and the level of violence. From almost the very first minute characters are seen making dumb decisions that puts them in terrible situations. Some of them would make sense if this was the first year of the Purge and no one thought people would actually act on it. However, we are told early on that the Purge has been going on for years; So either they are stupid enough to truly believe that it is a good idea to go grocery shopping an hour before the Purge begins, or they simply do not give a fuck. Here are just some of the stupid moves these characters pull:
- Go grocery shopping with less than an hour to get back home before the Purge starts
- Yell out fake threats to a home intruder who was deliberately looking for them
- Lie to an armored thug and hope that he will simply change his ways and not murder you in your home AFTER he finds out you lied to him.
- Yell for someone to get their car, despite showing up in a fully functioning car of their own
And many more.
The violence in the film is also incredibly light for an R rated movie. That is not to say that a horror movie MUST contain copious amounts of gore, but an R rated movie should contain more onscreen violence than a slow episode of “The Walking Dead.” Near the end, you could easily assume that you were watching the safe-for-TV edited version of the same movie you just paid to see in theaters. And for what little blood there is, nearly all of it is comically poor CGI. I’ve seen PlayStation 2 game cut-scenes with more convincing graphics.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of this “horror” movie is the utter lack of any real threat. SPOILER ALERT for those who care: One of the pillars of all horror films is the wide array of characters that are slowly picked off in increasingly brutal ways like a bored spouse would while out berry picking against their will. And that’s just the thing; of the five main characters throughout the film, only one dies and in the most common way possible – he gets shot. For a horror movie in 2014 that is pretty tame.
The fact is that “The Purge: Anarchy” and by association “The Purge” is an interesting idea that has enough meat behind it for maybe 30 minutes of truly entertaining spectacle. Instead, we get a PG-13 version of an R rated concept that runs out of ideas before it even gets going. Riddled with predictable jump scares and genre cliché, “The Purge: Anarchy” is not blood and gore, but just plain bore.