The Purge: An Economic Nightmare

Here is another example of semi-independent cinema.  The Purge was made for 3 million and grossed more than 30 million in its opening weekend which hopefully allows more original concepts through the studio doors.

Since the collapse of our economy the film industry has made it a point to only fund remakes, sequels, and adaptations.  They only put up funds on guarantees.  During the last ten years there have been films based on original concepts, but they have been created independently then purchased by studios and in some cases serialized after-the-fact.  Saw is an example of this, the original was funded by the Saturn Award received by its makers, then done to death by Lion's Gate.  Now this was done in the 80's with Michael, Freddy, Chucky, Jason, and Pinhead.  They were icons created by the economic turmoil suffered then.  So, as anything tried and true, the cycle is back.  Instead of creating new icons (except Jigsaw) all of the 80's maniacs have a remake/reboot - including Maniac.  It may seem as though we are digressing from a review of The Purge, but economics plays a huge part in the film's commentary.

We all know the premise: violence, terrorism, and homelessness are at an all time low because the government has sanctioned one night a year where all crime is legal.  There was an unmentioned revolt against the government and the "new founding fathers" emerged.  Through the realization that all of humankind has a darkness that must have an outlet, they created the annual purge.  And like any government decision, they had ulterior motives.  This is where the commentary truly comes into play.

With our current state of economic turmoil and a spotlight on the divide between the wealthy and the poor, The Purge criticizes the way our government wishes to make laws that will keep them within the upper crust no matter how it affects the rest of society.  The annual purge has not effected the rich until the night in which the film takes place.  James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) deals in advanced security systems made entirely for the purpose of protecting your home during the purge.  The bourgeoisie can, of course, afford the security which means they do not face the annual chaos.  Only the poor feel the wrath.

The reason poverty levels and homelessness statistics are drastically reduced yearly is because they are killed and taken out of the equation.  James' son Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets in a homeless man and the family comes face to face with the reality of the purge.  Another interesting facet of the film's commentary is that if this cycle of killing the poor continues, eventually those that are currently wealthy will be considered poor and hunted ad continuum.

On the surface, the film shows that when it comes to economics the only wallets our government care about are their own.  Beneath that, it adds an additional voice that advocates extreme cinema.  While as a home invasion film, it lacks the terrifying beauty of the sub-genre's French counterparts Ils, Inside, Martyrs, and High Tension or even Funny Games (original or remake) or The Strangers.  It does admit everyone has a dark side and needs an outlet.  Horror's love by its viewers comes from this safe catharsis that emerges from the audience's relationship with the film.  So while The Purge is not horrific, or filled with surprises it has a lot to say - too bad it was created to cater to mass audiences.

Rating: III/V


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