The Purge is Birdemic 2013. It really is.
It is about a group of aliens from the planet Slusho, accompanied by a reality TV show crew, that descends upon Earth and sucks out the insides of an average American family, the Sandins. These space goofs then burrow inside the hollowed-out carcasses of the Sandins and re-animate their flesh. They proceed to live their lives as the Sandins, and the TV crew captures their wacky attempts at being real people. Then, the movie starts. Hilarity ensues.
Spoilers from here on. Trust me; it doesn’t matter if you read on. What, did you not get enough of a feel for what the film is in the spoiler-free section? Alright, here you go: the movie is bad. Very bad.
Apparently, Ethan Hawke loves these 3 million-dollar spooks in which he plays a father who hates his kids and loves himself, enough to want to remove one of his ribs and perform auto-fellatio. And, just like in Sinister, before his character can develop and finally become likable, he dies. The film actually starts with him, as James, driving and talking to someone on the phone, who tells him that he “did it” and he’s “number one.” Yes! I did it! It’s a jolly time for all. Really, it is. Then, James comes home and says, “Mommy! Daddy — er, I mean — children, to whom I am a mentor and a role model, how was your day?…Pssshhh, who am I kidding? I don’t care! I did it! Golly-gee, I’ve diddly done it! I’m number one! Yes! Yes! Go me!”
“That’s great, Dad…” his kids mumble, trying their best to appear enthused. Then, James’ lower-left tentacle breaks through the surrounding leg and kicks his son in the knee. He shoots them a serious look that says: More emotion for the cameras, kids. People might not believe we’re a real family. The whole thing echoes the celebratory “one million dollars!” scenes in Birdemic.
So, what did our hero, Jimmy, do that was so great? He now sells the nation’s number one security system. As in, the same dinky set of aluminum foil sliding doors that would later hold out the Purge for an entire thirty minutes.
“Come on, nothing is impenetrable,” the alien posing as James argues, as Lena Headey’s Mary smirks back at him, knowing full-well that alien vaginas can, in fact, be impenetrable. So, are you telling me the number one security company in the nation, in a dystopian future where shit gets wildly and legally destroyed, has not figured out a way to defend against a truck attached to chains? Did they only plan for people whining outside, yelling, “please, let me in”? Because it couldn’t even protect against that. This state-of-the-art security system is attached to an iPad that, with the tap of a finger, can disarm the entire already-shoddy system.
This happens because the alien inside the body of the Sandins’ son feels bad for the other humans. On the one night when everything is supposed to be locked down, it takes fifteen seconds to open it right back up. So, for anyone who would argue that the Sandins were not aliens, but a modern-day Stepford family: your film has to have a voice-of-reason, a character with the same sensibilities as the audience, who exists to show that, no, the writer is not psychotic, but these one-dimensional characters were intentionally designed. It’s too bad, then, that the two characters who are supposed to fill this role, the kids, are complete idiots who are even more annoying and unsympathetic than everyone else. Sure, James and Mary are weird, and they definitely need more practice being humans, but I wanted their little-shit children to die immediately. Not only do they not die, but they are the source of clichéd and torturous “you saved me!” and “I inexplicably feel sorry for and am going to help someone I have never met who may very well be extremely dangerous on the one night when crime is legal” moments. I was rooting for these kids to die. I was deeply disappointed when they didn’t. So, the kids were supposed to be the film’s link to reality? Yeah, well, they were the weakest part of the whole thing. I liked the villains much more. Although, that doesn’t say much.
Forget the fact that there are shots in which the shadow of the camera is visible, that the lighting and color-correction are bland and that the writing is beyond laughable. The day after seeing The Purge, I told my girlfriend how ridiculous the entire premise of the plot is, how any normal family would turn on their security system the day before, and hide inside a truly impenetrable panic room inside of that during the actual Purge, with no way to get out until it’s all over. She replied, “well, wait, then there wouldn’t be a movie!”
The Purge should not exist.