It is the year 2023 and the annual Purge is on. In James DeMonaco’s second film in “The Purge” series, the theme has expanded from one family to three who are fighting for their lives during the annual purge. The country is controlled by the New Founding Fathers of America and they use the purge as an annual occurrence to cleanse the country and keep crime down.
In this film we meet Eva Sanchez, Carmen Ejogo, a waitress, her daughter, Cali, Zoë Soul, Shane, Zach Gilford and his wife, Liz, Kiele Sanchez. All three are trying to wait out the time till the purge is over. Shane and Liz’s car breaks down while they are trying to escape the onslaught. After this they are threatened by men in ghoulish masks and face paint wielding machetes.
At the same time Eva and her daughter, Cali are in their small apartment making dinner while placing boards over the windows, in the hopes of waiting out the purge. Through a series of events Eva and Cali’s apartment is attacked and suddenly they are on the run.
While both parties are fleeing for their lives, they meet up with Sergeant, Frank Grillo, a man who is so well armed he is a one man militia. He is an enigma, because while they rely on him, they are unsure if he can be trusted.
“The Purge: Anarchy” is a horror movie unlike most. It hones in on the very real feelings that lie just underneath us all; separateness due to race, money and status. The difference though is that in reality most people don’t go out and kill those who they view as beneath them. In the “The Purge” they not only act on these feelings, but the actions themselves are sanctioned by the government under the guise that it is for the public’s own welfare.
The message here is clear, yet is it? That the film does not use race as the sole reason for the Purge gives it an added complexity. It is choices such as these that move the film out of the realm of banal slasher.
Writer James DeMonaco has created a multi-faceted story that will speak to contemporary viewers regarding many issues. The themes interwoven into the story encompass not only class, race and economics (much like the nod to the 99%) but also security, and privacy. From here they extend this to the very real fear that our government could become a totalitarian dystopic state, which uses technology as warfare to control and create a society of their making.
“The Purge” series has components of the film “V for Vendetta” and yet, it also is a world unto itself; a story unlike any other. That this is a horror film seems extremely apropos. It is only in the darkest part of our imagination, that we may entertain thoughts, that our neighbor may wish us harm, that the government or some secret black ops group (to rake in a financial boon) may in fact be out to kill us. If we recall the comments on the 47% during the last campaign, then the views and fears expressed here are not without merit.
This may be due to the fact that our own world is one in which the lines between the haves and have not’s have never been more clear. That one of the rich was laughing during their ritual killing, is something which many may watch, and ask themselves if these things are not just Hollywood speculation. This film and the questions it asks, are not only pertinent in the story, but within the world in which we live.