The Purge franchise began eight years ago in 2013, and has sparked three sequels and one prequel since. The series of films have become increasingly popular and, as The Forever Purge makes its way to cinemas this Friday (July 16th, 2021), what better time to look back on the movie that started it all?
The Purge is an American event where, for 12 hours one night a year, all crime, including murder, is legal. Without fire, police or medical services until the next morning, America must wait out the night and hope they will survive.
The first ever film, simply titled The Purge, followed an American nuclear family who are rather wealthy, due to the parents’ hard work. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), his wife Mary) Lena Heady), along with their children Charlie (Max Burkholder) and Zoey (Adelaide Kane) prepare for the annual Purge every year after dinner; they watch the Broadcast announcing the commencement of the event, and then they go about their evening. But this year is different.
This year, while James is pleased that he’s sold the most security systems and gets a big pay raise, their neighbours aren’t so happy that the Sandins have made so much money from them, but, the angry community isn’t the problem, at least not at first.
Zoey and her father are at an impasse, as she has a boyfriend that her dad has deemed too old for her. This doesn’t stop Henry (Tony Oller) from sneaking into the Sandin’s home after lockdown and pointing a gun at James....
Meanwhile, Charlie sees a man running from some rich kids on the Purge cameras and, for some reason, decides to let him into the house. From then on, the Sandins are scared and confused as they have never had to worry about dying on Purge night.
The Purge was a brilliant way to kick off this franchise. Despite the many other possibilities we could have seen, we remained in the home of the Sandin family and followed their terror as a group of wealthy youths break in to the family’s lush home, all to kill the man that Charlie let inside the house.
This film was very clever, in the sense that we only saw one family’s struggle against those who wish to Purge. We could have seen people in the city Purging, we could have seen working-class citizens fight for their lives; but showing a wealthy family was a great choice because it shows that just because some people have it better, doesn’t mean that they think they are better.
Horror films or thrillers that stick to one environment are the ones to celebrate, as keeping a story about being hunted and killed contained within the walls of a singular home is a sure-fire way to ensure audiences are hooked.
The Sandins are, despite Zoey’s anger towards her father, a very close family and their struggles become almost difficult to watch as those who wish to Purge enter their home and target the family.
In a way, The Purge shows that no one is safe from the annual event. The rich are not exempt and, in later films, we are shown that people will use this night to commit the most horrendous of acts, including torture and dressing up to kill.
There are so many themes to contend with in this film and the franchise as a whole; religion, Americanism, class, race, and more. All these factors are what make these films stick out a little more, as they are real world issues projected in a very violent and realistic way, creating fear and shock as The Purge takes lives and ‘saves America’.
This franchise is a brilliant one, as each film is different and focuses on different kinds of people, from the poor to Senators. Every scenario is entirely possible, in the sense that if The Purge were a real event, people would most likely take to the streets and attack others, some would go after specific people, and others might even offer help to those who have been attacked during the heinous event.
This 2013 movie was a great introduction to the franchise; the sirens that commence the annual Purge are so iconic and genuinely invoke fear, as you know that sound means that government-sanctioned mass murder will follow suit.
The Purge was clever, suspenseful, cruel, and a masterful film that paved the way to a brilliant franchise.
Watch the trialer for The Purge below.
Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal
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