The greatest trick The Purge (2013) ever pulled was convincing us at first that it is your run-of-the-mill home invasion thriller, directing us to think that the protagonists are the typical wealthy white family in the suburbs and the villains are the hoodlums in the streets who’ve waited all year to terrorize them without consequences. Sure, there is a moment early in the film which establishes that the Sandin family — led by mom Mary (Lena Headey) and dad James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) — may not be the most liked in the neighborhood, but we’re generally still supposed to root for them. Especially when on the night of the annual Purge, when all crime is legal for 12 hours, they intentionally choose not to participate.
But as the movie progresses, we learn that things are not so black and white — at least not when it comes to the morality of our protagonists versus that of the street thugs. Because the annual Purge — a law established by the nation’s political New Founding Fathers (NFFA) in efforts to dissolve crime by murdering the poor and weak and elevating the rich, privileged, and usually white — has allowed the affluent Sandins the choice to simply lock up their home with the most expensive security system around and remain oblivious to the terror outside. As James even says early in the film, if their family was still poor, they’d definitely participate “because it does work.”
That’s what’s so great about The Purge; it challenges our perceptions of right and wrong and how that’s impacted by a broken yet highly functional society — one not unlike our own.
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If you grab an average person off the street and ask them how they feel about the recently departed 2016, they’d probably give you a detached thousand yard stare. Or burst into tears. It was, for the world as a whole, not a great time to be alive. However, it was a great year for horror movies. And that makes a twisted sort of sense. As we discover new ways to fear and despair, the movies will react accordingly. Whether by accident or design, horror cinema represented everything we dread in 2016. How it will react to the actual events of this past year has me fascinated…and terrified.
Looking back at the past twelve months, it’s astonishing just how good horror cinema has been. It was there when we needed it, offering an avenue of escape and, when necessary, a dark mirror to examine our inner demons.
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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- A Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ride is rumored to be replacing Dragon Challenge at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster has finally reopened following a lengthy refurbishment.
- Take a video tour of the the Incredible Hulk Coaster‘s new queue.
- Universal Studios Hollywood is bring The Purge: Election Year to Halloween Horror Nights.
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The Purge: Election Year was in development long before anyone involved knew it would be released in the middle of the most contentious, ludicrous, and genuinely embarrassing election season in American history. And while the average American (and many other citizens of the world) squirm and groan with every new development arising from both sides of the political aisle, the third film in writer/director James DeMonaco‘s horror series has found itself in a unique position. Suddenly, the film’s vision of a deranged future America where murder is legalized for one night every year feels kind of inevitable. After all, the world does seem to be crumbling a little bit every single day.
And you bet your ass The Purge: Election Year is well-aware of this environment. The tagline on display in the new trailer is “Keep America Great.” These movies know exactly what they’re doing.
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:
Even though it feels like it’s been an election year for much longer than a couple months, this year is officially the year when we elect a new President of the United States of America. And while the craziness of the primaries unfolded last night with yet another political debate between potential presidential candidates, an all too appropriate TV spot debuted for this year’s action thriller sequel The Purge: Election Year debuted, taking cues from the political ads that we all get sick of seeing.
Watch The Purge 3 TV spot after the jump. Read More »
Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Writer/director James DeMonaco‘s The Purge movies have never been shy about melding politics and horror. The series’ creepy, Twilight Zone-esque elevator pitch – a near-future America legalizes all crime for one night every year – has been a vehicle to examine how corrupt systems favor the wealthy and powerful while literally leaving the poor and the helpless out on the streets. You can argue about the results (I think they’ve been pretty good), but it’s always nice to see a grisly horror series bring a little bit of actual meat to the slaughter.
The trailer for The Purge: Election Year has arrived and it looks like the next natural step forward for this series. But most importantly, Frank Grillo is back, which is the real reason to celebrate.
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