The summer of sequels continues to please moviegoers of every genre, with a surprise hit of a lesser known thriller/horror film from just this last year getting another immediate, but by no means rushed installment. Director James (The Purge, Skinwalkers) DeMonaco continues the story of the yearly night of government-sanctioned mayhem in this psuedo-dystopian future tale. The films's two biggest strengths off the bat are that it drops the less-than-stellar cast from the original and that it finally shows the audience what they wanted to see in the first one: what happens to everyday citizens on Purge Night.
An entirely new cast and a brand new outlook provides the film's viewers an immediate sense of urgency and drama, where we are given three sets of "cast clusters," so to speak. We have the mother/daughter/grandfather who live in the ghetto, the soon-to-be separated husband and wife, and the one man army who will stop at nothing to get revenge on someone who wronged him. Naturally, they all end up meeting when the night takes a turn for the worse for everyone involved, and what follows is about an hour straight of solid action. The government trucks are scary, the wealthy elitists are believable, but it is the vicious street gang that truly make this a horror film. The terror they inspire is just one of many things missing in the original that the sequel not only provides, but expertly demonstrates. There are enough twists and turns throughout the film to keep just about anyone interested, but it is surprisingly the acting that holds this film together the strongest.
Frank (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Warrior) Grillo leads a great ensemble, including Zach (Friday Night Lights, Devil's Due) Gilford, Kiele (A Perfect Getaway, The Glades) Sanchez, Justina (The Call, Final Destinatino 2) Machado, John (The Sum of All Fears, The Apostle) Beasley, Carmen (Pride and Glory, Alex Cross) Ejogo, and newcomer Zoe Soul. All play their roles adequately and some (Grillo and Soul in particular) rise above expectations at every turn, forming not only a believable but an emotional relationship on the screen. Though the ending might disappoint a few moviegoers, most will find themselves rooting for the good guys, hoping for the comeuppance of the villains, and questioning just what they would do if put in a similar situation, as unlikely as it may seem. All in all, this is exactly what a summer horror film should be: Action-packed, unpredictable, and entertaining.