Directed and Written by James DeMonaco
The year is 2022 and the American Dream is in full view, the crass colours stand out on the screen in an imitation of the Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s. James DeMonaco seems to adopt the falseness of that era in his introduction of the perfect Sandins and their neighbourhood. The claustrophobic nosey neighbours and deliberate magnification of everything from faces to movements imploring us to notice their imperfections sets the uneasy atmosphere. The effect given is that of the unrealistic expectations of America, the larger than life lifestyle is represented and this can only be experienced, in my view, whilst watching it on the big screen.
During the Purge, the Sandins, the wealthiest family in the neighbourhood are locked down in their house, their choice is to hide rather than seek but the night has other ideas, when the youngest of the Sandins acts on his conscience, the family are thrown into a situation where they must decide; kill or be killed.
The Purge can be seen as a strictly American film, with it only being fully understood by those who live in the USA. The importance of the constant reference to the ‘new founding fathers’ can only be understood by those whose everyday life is already effected by the original founding fathers. American audiences may see this as a comment on society, a political stance or just a ‘what if?’ film, but those who do not have a considerable understanding of American life and politics may find it difficult to gain the full message of the film.
I’m still not sure about whether this is an amazing idea/comment on where American society is heading of just another Battle Royale type film. I can’t fault the acting, Ethan Hawke plays the competitive all American father, Lena Headey, the Game of Thrones beauty, plays the concerned, not quite fitting in housewife who would do anything for her children. I guess it comes down to the fact that yes I did enjoy it but no I would not buy it on DVD. I’d recommend it as a rental on LoveFilm or Sky Box Office when it comes out or trying to catch it at the cinema now, but it loses its effect after the first time viewing. The shocks can’t happen twice and, as there has already been a sequel rumoured I’d wait for that for my next fix of The Purge.