A night can certainly go from bad to worse when the second movie is even worse than the first. When the first movie happens to be The Internship, consider just how bad The Purge really is. Writer/director James DeMonaco delivers such a horrible final 30 minutes it deflates the entire film. During the opening credits, I had higher hopes as I saw a string of French names, however, amongst them? But then, Michael Bay. Although the French are certainly doing horror right, Bay’s Platinum Dunes still has no idea what makes a good movie. Period.
The movie is set in 2022. Unemployment is at 1% and one night a year, for 12 hours, the U.S. participates in a government issued “purge.” It’s a night of anything goes, and normal everyday people head out to hunt down the weak or take vengeance on their enemies.
In the case of James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), who works for a security company, all he wants to do is enjoy a 12-hour lockdown inside the house he secured for himself. Locked inside with his wife Mary (Lena Headey), and kids Charlie (Max Burkholder) and Zoey (Adelaide Kane), James just wants to get through another purge. Charlie questions his parents don’t participate in the purge, while Zoey’s boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller) manages to sneak inside before the lockdown begins.
Things go from bad to worse for the Sandins when Charlie allows a Bloody Stranger (Edwin Hodge) entrance, and a group of costume-wearing purgers show up to get him. Meanwhile, Henry convinces Zoey that he just wants to talk to James man-to-man, but has a much different agenda, aiming instead to kill his girlfriend’s dad. Because, you know, the fastest way to a young girl’s heart is to put a bullet in her father’s. But James manages to kill Henry first. Our Bloody Stranger lurks inside while the group of maniacs outside led by Polite Stranger (Rhys Wakefield), threatens to take out the whole family if they don’t give him up. Let the game of morals begin!
Although I was thoroughly caught up in the events of the first hour, a ludicrous turn of events made me quite angry with the way in which the last 30 minutes play out. This is without a doubt the worst finale to a film since last year’s Chronicle. Although I wasn’t on board with that one from the start, at least I wasn’t as mentally involved. Now imagine loving two-thirds of a film only to watch all the buildup and tension come crumbling down as the film grows dumber and dumber with each passing minute.
Hawke plays the father trying to save his family surprisingly well, even if he seems prone to starring in these films that have a great premise but a horrible dénouement — read: Sinister. There were cheers and applause throughout the finale as the audience cheered on the wrong characters. By the time that one hour mark hits, I just wanted all of the characters to die. Now if only there was some way I could purge myself from ever having seen The Purge.
Photos courtesy Universal Pictures