The Purge

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2022, the United States is a nation reborn ruled by the New Founding Fathers of America. To maintain low crime and unemployment rates throughout the year, the government has installed an annual twelve-hour period called “The Purge” during which all criminal activity, including murder, becomes legal. The only rules during The Purge are that “Level 10” government officials must remain unharmed and usage of weaponry above “Class 4” is forbidden. The Purge is designed to act as a catharsis for the American people, so that they may vent all negative emotions however they desire.

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a wealthy home security developer. At home, Mary Sandin (Lena Headey) struggles with her two children: teenage Zoey (Adelaide Kane) is dating an older boy named Henry (Tony Oller), while Charlie (Max Burkholder) questions the need for the Purge. Mary speaks to her excitable neighbor, Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis), who explains that they aren’t having their annual “purge party”. When James arrives home, the family discusses why the Purge is an important part of society.

After dinner, Charlie fixes a remote controlled device he uses to film events around the house. The family gathers in the lounge where James initiates the lockdown, shielding all the windows and doors, and is able to witness the events of the Purge via television screens. An official automated Government announcement is broadcasted, and sirens are sounded outside, announcing the start of The Purge. The broadcast explains that all emergency services will be suspended in the 12 hour period. Zoey asks to be excused to her bedroom, where she finds Henry, who sneaked into the house before the lockdown. Henry tells Zoey he wishes to convince James to allow him and Zoey to continue seeing each other.

James and the family watch the events of the Purge unfold via video monitors in the lounge. However, Charlie notices a bloodied and beaten stranger (Edwin Hodge) pleading for help outside the house and lets him in by deactivating the security system. James holds the stranger at gunpoint, and at the same time Henry reveals himself and attempts to shoot James. James shoots Henry, but the stranger escapes into hiding within the house in the confusion while Zoey runs away with the dying Henry. Henry dies from wounds inflicted by James. James leaves the lounge in search of Zoey and the stranger.

Well-dressed, masked hunters (who appear to be rich college/prep school students) trace the stranger to the Sandin’s home and address an ultimatum to the family through the surveillance system: hand the stranger over, their target, within the hour or they will break into the house and murder everyone inside. Using his remote controlled device, Charlie finds the stranger and leads him to a secret hiding place, where he won’t be found by his parents. Zoey inadvertently stumbles onto the hiding place and is held at gunpoint by the stranger, but is freed after a brief struggle. James and Mary tie up the stranger, who is shown wearing dog tags and are prepared to give them to the vigilantes but have a change of heart when realizing that they are becoming essentially no different than the Purge murderers.

The hunters successfully break into the household. The Sandins are forced into a siege to defend the house, culminating in them killing many of the intruders. The leader of the group (Rhys Wakefield) fatally stabs James with a machete but, in turn, is shot and killed by Zoey as the neighbors finish off the remaining intruders. However, the neighbors reveal they are there to kill the Sandins; in the theme of the Purge, since the opportunity presented itself, they decided it was their patriotic duty to kill the Sandins in order to vent their hatred for the family’s new found wealth.

Just as the neighbors are about to kill the family, the bloodied stranger comes to the Sandins’ aid, killing one of them. Mary is given the choice to have the other four killed, however decides to not let the Purge continue and decides to spare her neighbors, as too many people have died during the night. Grace makes one final attempt to kill Mary, but Mary deflects the attack and smashes her face into a glass table. With Grace heavily bleeding out of a broken nose, the surviving neighbors and the homeless stranger leave the house and walk away as sirens signal the end of the 12-hour Purge period. The Sandin family watch the emergency services arrive outside of their home.

The credits include audio from television broadcasts, stating that this Purge was the most successful Purge ever due to the record high number of murders. It is also stated that the Purge will happen again as normal next year.


With all the strife and negative feelings going on in the country right now, one has to wonder if having an annual purge to rid us all of the negative aspects of our society would be a good thing. The Purge dares to show us what would happen I such a thing were to happen, and yet I can imagine there are some out there that will still be pushing for this to become a reality.

What is this about?

In a crime-ridden future when overtaxed cops let murder and other crimes rule the streets one night a year, someone’s knocking at James Sandin’s door. Tormented by an unknown thrill-killer, Sandin makes a desperate stand to save his wife and family.

What did I like?

Consequences. With every action, there has to be consequences. As you can imagine, with a de facto “holiday” set aside to purge the country of whatever they think is wrong, there is sure to be some casualties that aren’t needed. Some films would take this gloss over it, but in this case, this movie shows us the consequences o having such actions. I can’t be for certain, but that sort of felt like a warning to any that might be considering this as some sort of way of life.

Violence. Given the premise that one day out of the year, people can legally go around murdering willy-nilly, one would have expected this to turn out as a more violent outing. However, the bloody murders don’t happen until all hell breaks loose in the last 30 minutes or so. I applaud how they were restrained and didn’t turn this into some sort of slasher flick, though I’m sure there are those out there who would have preferred it that way.

Heart. As someone with a huge heart, I have to say that the son who opened the security system to let in the stranger wasn’t necessarily in the wrong, especially considering how he appeared to be bloody and beaten. Sure, you can make the case that he is a stranger, could be a psycho, blah, blah, blah, but look at it through the boy’s eyes. He obviously is not a fan of what he knows about the purge and was looking for a way to help someone. Can you honestly sit there and fault him for being a good Samaritan?

What didn’t I like?

Hunt. I am not a fan of these people thinking that they are entitled to hunt a human being, even if their “prey” is given sanctuary. They were so intent on coming after this guy that they were going to kill a family and destroy their home to get him. Something about that just doesn’t sit right with me, I’m sorry. I guess in the near future society will have downgraded to near savagery.

Predictable. I was expecting there to be something that  we couldn’t see coming from a mile a way happen, but that never occurred. As a matter of fact, it was like the picture wanted to go somewhere new, but the writers got scared and fell into the trap of predictability. To a point, this is alright, but at some point, films are going to have to do something different and not what we expect. For instance, the daughter could have ended up being the ring leader of these “purgers” and just as she was about to murder her family, the son’s robot manages to stop her somehow, probably through electrocution…hell, I don’t know, but you get the idea of what I’m saying with doing something new.

Founding Fathers. We kept hearing about the new founding fathers, but never learned who they were or what happened between present day and the time this film is set. I cannot help but be curious as to what caused these guys to start the purge and, even more importantly, how are they called the “founding fathers”? Is what they did as important as say a George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, etc.?

This morning I was reading how The Purge is actually winning the box-office battle, which is quite surprising when you consider this is a fairly low-budget thriller going up against big budget blockbusters. Now, with Man of Steel and Monsters University on the horizon the next couple of weeks, I highly doubt this will stay up there that long. That being said, this is one of those films that you should watch, even if this isn’t your genre. You will be on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next.

4 out of 5 stars


5 Responses to “The Purge”

  1. […] your ground. I was listening to a review of The Purge a couple of weeks ago, and this film was mentioned as being similar. At the time, I didn’t […]

  2. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  3. […] I mentioned earlier, The Conjuring, along with The Purge and a couple of other films this summer, proved that big budget cinema isn’t everything, both […]

  4. […] that “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida and could possibly lead to something similar to The Purge. Not to get into some deep discussion, I like that this film ends with that conversation […]

  5. […] a difference a year makes! I remember watching The Purge and thinking to myself this could never happen. Fast forward to today and we have seen police shoot […]

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