The Purge (2013)

1h 25m / R / Thriller

In 2014, a political party called the “New Founding Fathers of America” are voted into office following an economic collapse and, by 2022, pass a law sanctioning the “Purge.” It’s an annual event heralded by a very catchy alarm sound and some tremendous mask work wherein all crime (including murder) is legal, and emergency services are unavailable for 12 hours. That premise must have seemed outlandish in 2013, huh? James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family face a harrowing test when an intruder drags the vicious outside world into their home. James, his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and their two children struggle to survive the night while trying not to turn into monsters like the ones they are striving to avoid.

The Purge sequels vary in quality but come up with some sharp and astute social analysis. But the original is more of a straightforward gut-punch, sliding past its premise quickly to focus on a Straw Dogs-ish nightmare scenario. It’s a b-movie in the most complimentary sense: totally divorced from the requirement to appease mainstream audiences or the critical apparatus, it takes a powerful but simple concept and runs it out to its most extreme, most horrific, most provocative conclusion.

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