One night of unrestrained, perfectly legal violence. For this future version of America, this Purge is a Holiday in the vein of the 4th of July. We faced the collapse of our country, and our leaders “solved” it all — by allowing us to bludgeon each other during a 12 hour period once a year. Low unemployment, low crime, no government debt. Clearly, this works.

The Purge is not about how this night came to be, who implemented it or how it should be taken down, but instead what could potentially happen during it. A well off white family attempts to go through the night, guarded with what has been billed as a tight security system, in peace. Unfortunately, the young son lets a poor black man, who is being chased by psychopathic hunters, in. The hunters threaten the family, causing them to confront the morality of the nights events directly.

These hunters are young, also white and also well off. They firmly believe in the principles of this night, and will go to great lengths to kill one man, despite the fact that they could just leave their safe / guarded neighborhood and go to the other side of town. An across the board license to kill goes both ways, and by leaving the area of privilege would actually (gasp) put them in the real world, where they aren’t really safe. Hunting for game in your backyard doesn’t make you a badass, but as long as you can pretend like one with your prep school friends…

On the surface, the movie is about our violent tendencies and “need” to let it out. In the world these characters inhabit, this is how the government marketed the plan to its citizens. How can one 12 hour period of violence create economic stability for a nation? Population control and literal class warfare, it seems. Those who are well off can afford to protect themselves and live in the neighborhoods that don’t see most of the violence. Those who are the neediest are left to fight off anyone and everyone who believes they caused the near destruction of America years before.

Remember that argument about teachers making SOOOO much money from taxpayers, implying that they ALONE were causing our downfall? Or how about organizations like ACORN being demonized, only to be vindicated after the fact? But those wars we spent all of your money on? No, those were necessary. We couldn’t spend it on health care for all or education — things that could pull a nation out of despair — not while dirty looking foreigners worship falsely. No, the REAL problem is that you need release. Enough to make you forget. BIG TIME. Either the New Founding Fathers were evil men covering their butts, or just backward thinking dummies. Which is worse?

One of the silliest movies of the year is also one of the more surprising ones. An exaggerated yet prophetic horror film for liberals, a home invasion thriller for everyone else. I understand it is getting a sequel. More violence will be had, but hopefully they’ll sneak in some of the elements that made the first one a tad thoughtful. A tad, mind you. Can have us thinking too hard…

2/5 *s (though, 3/5 feels right as well)

Originally published at on June 11, 2013.

Independent film critic. Progressive po’ boy, moviegoing romantic. SEFCA member, 🍅 - approved. Newsletter at

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