Bit of a dirge – ★★
Imagine a future world with no crime. Well the “New Founding Fathers of America” did and decided to way to get there was by designating one night a year where anything is legal, including murder. A brilliant premise for a movie and, like Minority Report a decade ago, it pulls you in because it’s a clever and thought-provoking way of dealing with the ongoing problem of crime. Heck the marketeers behind the film even went to the trouble of making a fun little website prepping us for PURGE 2022. So what a shame it is that the film-makers didn’t think to spend a bit more time on the film itself.
Leading the cast is Ethan Hawke as James Sandin, a man who will pop up in a much more desired film next month – Before Midnight. He plays a leading sales rep for a security company who specialise in making your home “purge-proof”, so that you can relax behind the thick steel plating and watch the atrocities on your CCTV system. Mr. Sandin is also a proud family man with Lena Headey as his wife and Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder as his two kids. They’re settling down for another night of purge activities when it turns out that i) girl Sandin’s older boyfriend has hidden in the house when the shutters came down in order to confront Daddy Sandin for not letting them be together and ii) boy Sandin de-activated the security system in order to let a homeless man take refuge in the home which has upset a group of privileged gobshites intent on “purging” him. What will Mr and Mrs Sandin do?
Well in summary… lots of stupid things. The story progression and character choices will have you slapping your forehead in frustration with a special award being reserved for boy Sandin (Max Burkholder) for making the worst life choices of all. The leader of the group of purgers (Tony Oller) who lay siege to the Sandin home is trying to evoke thoughts of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games’ two characters (played by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) but needless to say he isn’t fit to wipe the blood from their golf clubs.
The 39-year-old Headey stole the show as the boss/bitch in last year’s little-seen Dredd 3D and also plays Cersei Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones. She is much better than this material and is responsible for the movie’s best moment involving a broken nose. Well done Mammy Sandin.
The film is perfectly watchable and has great idea and one or two really cool moments, which is to be expected when it’s coming from Blumhouse Productions the same people that brought us Paranormal Activity and Insidious, but calling it a horror would be an insult to the genre. The producers wisely turned in a short film but it’s really frustrating that it couldn’t live up to the cool premise and enticing opening ten minutes.
USA / Directed By: James DeMonaco / Written By: James DeMonaco / Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, Tony Oller / 85mins / Horror, Thriller / Release: 31 May 2013 (Ireland, UK), 7 June 2013 (US, Canada)