It feels like a movie sequel comes out every other week (sometimes more frequently). One genre that used to crank out sequels was horror movies. Not as much as in the past since not too many horror movies are released theatrically anymore, but if one does get a taste of success, you can be sure there will be a new offering every year until the public has finally had enough of it. Last year "The Purge" had a great opening weekend which quickly green lit a sequel. That movie comes out today, July 18 "The Purge: Anarchy."
The year is 2023 and a conservative political party that makes the Tea Party look like a group of liberal wusses, is the new regime in America. They have created a new holiday, at least that's how some treat it, known as The Purge where all crime is legal, including murder, for one night a year. A man out looking to purge, finds himself helping a mother and daughter as they were being kidnapped and a young couple who gets stranded in the city after their car breaks down. The chances of them surviving the night are against them.
Writer/director James DeMonaco did come up with an interesting concept. It certainly brought people out to the theaters for the first film as the story resolved around a family who takes a homeless man into their home while a group of killers tries to break in to purge themselves. However, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who liked the movie as it was not well executed. That problem also plagues "The Purge: Anarchy."
Once again the story is intriguing as now we get to see what happens outside in the city, rather than in one suburban home. There are many writers that go on to direct. Sometimes it is the natural progression of a writer, and if one has enough good credits, they can eventually find themselves in the director's chair. "The Negotiator" is among DeMonaco's credits so he was bound to get his shot one day. Unfortunately it is now clear that he is better off behind the keyboard because he does not do well in the director's chair.
A writer may envision what their movie will look like on the screen, but that does not mean they know how to convey what they want with an actor. James DeMonaco does not know how to successfully work with actors. In a movie like "The Purge: Anarchy" you want to be invested about the fate of the characters, otherwise you will not care whether they survive or not. This is one of the core problems with this movie because you don't care if these characters survive the night or not. The acting does not stink, but it is mundane. The actors actually look a little lost on the screen as if they were starving for a little direction, but never got any. Last year he got to work with Ethan Hawke, in a role that became quickly forgettable for the talented actor.
The director does not even show any technical skills either. He manages to work in a couple of jump out scares, but that hardly takes any skill. For two years in a row he has failed to build any tension in his Purge movies. You can tell when he's trying, but it is almost laughable. The result is that it makes the movie feel like it is dragging and boring. The running time is only 90-minutes, but it feels like the full 12 hours that the fictional Purge lasts. He does not even know how to properly handle the camera as there are too many jerky handheld shots in this movie as if this were one of those camcorder, found footage films.
The only level that "The Purge: Anarchy" really works is on a political one. Gun control is a major topic in this country and here is a movie that takes place in the future where you have people on the street selling guns, saying to people as they pass by, "Hey, you need some protection tonight?" The American people are encouraged to "Release the Beast." The result of this new holiday is that things like crime and poverty are at an all time low. It should be noted though, that a big reason for this is because the night is used for the rich to wipe out the poor. There are certainly parallels between what is going on in this country now and this movie, but that is the only scary element about it. It is rated R for strong disturbing violence, and for language.