Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Purge: Anarchy (2014) - A Review

After having finally sat down to a viewing of The Purge, I was excited to tear into it’s wildly successful sequel, The Purge: Anarchy. If everyone was saying that the sequel was infinitely better than the inadequate first chapter, then surely I was going to LOVE it considering that I actually quite enjoyed the The Purge. Right?

Released on July 18, 2014, James DeMonaco returned to his futuristic world in which the American public is plunged into chaos for 12 hours to cleanse their souls and purge themselves of all anger, hatred, jealousy, etc., etc. Seen on a much bigger scale this time around, DeMonaco shows the events of Purge Night on a city wide level. He takes the cameras into the city to give the audience what they were left clamoring for after the credits began to roll on the first film: blood filled streets and all the chaos they could possibly handle. After all, Purge Night comes but once a year, right?  

Director(s): James DeMonaco
Writer(s): James DeMonaco
Producer(s): Platinum Dunes, Blumhouse Productions, Why Not Productions
Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Michael K Williams
Released: July 18, 2014
Running Time: 103 min.

So, hopefully you read the review of The Purge that I released earlier this week, cuz I’m just going to roll right off that one and into this one. The first film was by no means perfect, but I did enjoy it. It was like a breath of fresh air in a time of convoluted supernatural films, and I feel like something like this was needed. While yes, it was a little sloppy in a few departments it was still tense in the right places and got the wheels spinning in the ‘ol noggin. That’s huge points for me in a horror film. Overall, I thought it was a pretty well thought out film. The Purge: Anarchy… maybe not so much.

When you go to the Wikipedia page for The Purge: Anarchy, it is described as “a 2014 American social science fiction action horror film”. Huh? In a way, I feel like that one sentence almost perfectly proves the points that I am about to make here. The biggest issue that I ultimately had with the film is that it feels very conflicted. It felt like it was trying to be so many different things, and the one thing that it did not feel like, was a horror film. This was an action film, charading as a horror film.

I’m left thinking that when The Purge fell privy to the franchise treatment, DeMonaco was left scrambling to come up with a script that was supposed to be bigger, badder, better and bloodier. And yes, it was definitely bigger. It was badder and it was bloodier, but I don’t feel that it was better. The suspense and tension that was felt in the Sandin’s house was all but absent. By introducing three different storylines (for a total of five protagonists) it was difficult to build any emotional bond with these people. It felt like there were no stakes. While there were moments of tension, I felt like they were quickly brushed over by needing to move onto to another character’s story arc. I do believe that at the core of this film, there was another solid story. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the runtime was longer that maybe the film itself would be more coherent and overall a bit more of a solid product.

The Purge: Anarchy suffers from sequel syndrome, but I’ve definitely seen worse offenders. As a writer for a horror based website, the points that I previously discussed obviously carry a lot of weight for me. Does this affect my viewpoint of the franchise? It’s still hard to say, I enjoyed the first film quite a bit and am looking forward to the release of The Purge: Election Year. I feel that if DeMonaco managed to find a happy balance between the first and second chapters that Election Year could be the best entry in the franchise but only time will tell.

I still believe in what DeMonaco is doing with this franchise and I still respect him regardless. The Purge: Anarchy was ultimately worth the watch, so would I recommend it? Yes, give it a viewing. I don’t know if I’ll watch it again, but I don’t regret giving up the hour and forty five minutes of my life to watch it. Regardless of the identity crisis that the film seems to have, there are some great scenes and sequences in it that will warranty at least one viewing. And hey, there’s still some sweet, sweet retribution to be had and as you all know, I love that shit.

Keep it spooky,
Ryan Wilkins

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