The Purge fails on all accounts

The Purge is horrifically underwhelming, according to’s Tenley Nordstrom. 

It was the first time that I went full-on asshole in a movie theatre. I couldn’t help myself. A last-minute decision to see a film with my roommates landed me at The Purge. That fatal moment of “Sure! I’ll come!” Maybe it would be like that time I saw District 9 adverts all over LA. I didn’t know why only humans were allowed on benches, but the movie turned out to be awesome. No such luck…

Part-way through The Purge, as I was supposed to be horrified, I full-on started laughing. Soon I was joined by a few other moviegoers. The film was so bad that I felt it warranted a standing ovation paired with a mocking slow clap. But hey, it’ll probably turn into a trilogy. I mean, Fast & Furious 6 was also playing. SIX!

I admit that the premise could have been a good one. You have twelve hours with no laws and no emergency services, but this concept falls short in the hands of filmmaker James DeMonaco. The utter lack of creativity is my biggest gripe with this movie. Really? Your characters get to do whatever they want for twelve hours and you chose a boring suburban home invasion as your subject? I thought I was in that South Park episode where Stan gets diagnosed as being a cynical asshole because he sees shit coming out of everybody and everything. Trapped in said episode, I imagined Trey Parker coming over the sound system saying, “This commences The Purge. FUCK YOU.”

Let’s get one thing straight about this movie. I keep reading that it did well at the box office because it’s an original idea. This is not an original idea. A 1967 Star Trek episode went there with this same premise. But you know what? I don’t even care about originality. If Bob Dylan hears a tune and it inspires Masters of War, it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t fully original. So, now that’s out of the way, here are my biggest gripes with The Purge.

If you are going to have a security system that is impervious to outsiders, how about we think about the power going out? We see the metal slabs slide down over the windows and doors. We see a few screens with cameras monitoring the outside world but that’s it. Apparently a back-up generator was too far-fetched for these smart guys!

Someone explain to me how this is a utopia where a nation is reborn, crime is at an all-time low and unemployment is at 1% thanks to the purge, yet there is still vast amounts of poor people needing to be cleansed from society.

Seriously, save me the storyline about a dad who forbids his daughter to see an older guy. PLAYED OUT. Oh yeah, the geeky tech-savvy younger brother? TRY AGAIN. While we’re at it, can I get a character with an ounce of complexity? Right now I would take a Lifetime Network offering over this thing you call a movie.

Are you seriously telling me that only the dad is trained in using guns? Why? This is a purge, God damn it!

I’m supposed to believe that this is a night where the poor can’t protect themselves. They don’t get security systems and all of that fancy stuff. They have to fend for themselves against psychotic rich kids hunting (we’re not talking about animals here). Somehow this is supposed to be commentary that the rich have an advantage in society, but I don’t buy it in this case.

Because, seriously, this is America! Where poor people and mentally ill people alike can get their hands on machine guns. Come on now! Let’s move mass amounts of drugs and make major dough here! Burn down Congress! How about we rob multiple banks by way of hacking! Here’s a novel idea – let’s [the poor people] steal the supplies needed for the next year, kill a rich family and take over their house! Because there are no laws!

Which brings me to my final and most important point about this movie. I am supposed to believe that violence is simplistic. That, if we could just get that knuckle-dragging tendency towards violence out of our systems once a year, we wouldn’t want to do it any other day that year. I have big issues with this premise. One of the greatest novels ever written by an American author is called, “An American Tragedy.” Theodore Dreiser’s aim was to dissect how a seemingly normal human-being could resort to murder. He commented on class mobility all along the way. Some of you might know this basic notion as rehashed in the film Match Point. My point is that violence is much more complex. It happens for a variety of reasons and it’s often a momentary lapse in judgement. It’s often heat of the moment. You are most likely to be murdered by a partner, family member, or friend. Violence is less often about sport and more often about circumstances.

This is social commentary at its weakest and incidentally, the horror genre at its weakest. I am the type of person that doesn’t usually watch horror movies because I will have nightmares. If I’m laughing when characters are attacked or dying, you’ve failed on all accounts.



Words by Tenley Nordstrom.