One Nation, Under Guns
Well, we’ve reached the third movie in James DeMonaco’s unlikely horror trilogy, and I think it’s time to say what we’ve all been thinking – no, not that we’re bored, but that the purge is nothing but a satirical exaggeration of the US second amendment. Oh come on, you know it’s true.
God, guns and Capitol Hill self-interest feature widely in this installment, along with lots of heavy handed talk about how “purging” is now fundamental to the American way of life. Sure, it seems like insanity to the rest of the world, apart from foreigners with their blood lust up who’ve travelled abroad to indulge, singing America’s praises as the one place on Earth you can murder with impunity for 24 hours (or destroy a sparrow’s nest if you’re still at entry level), but to the natives it’s now as natural as the Star Spangled Banner and Seinfeld.
Of course in reality you can murder with impunity 365 days of the year, thanks to a ludicrous and outdated statute designed to protect the country’s territorial integrity. The purge, fundamentally, is there to protect American’s moral integrity – it’s catharsis designed to rid the body politic of its frustrations at all the exploitation, inhumanity and envy that’s still legal all year round. But the purge, like the 2nd amendment, disproportionately spells curtains for the poor and vulnerable, and DeMonaco once again makes the point using a grab bag of blue collar characters, including returning gruff cynic, Frank Grillo.
Unfortunately, despite a development in the premise, presidential hopeful and one-time purge survivor, Elizabeth Mitchell, threatening to abolish the madness, and therefore becoming an unscrupulous government’s no.1 target on the night in question, Election Year’s more of the same. Like 2014’s Anarchy, it’s the aforementioned societal cross section – a black shop owner cum communitarian, the senator, and other less memorable characters, trying to survive the onslaught from deranged politicians, delinquent school girls with guns, and those damned murder tourists. Perfunctory shoot outs and pensive faces abound, but in the absence of anything like concrete characterization and humour that doesn’t rely on racial stereotyping, there’s little to spice the stew.
Ultimately, it’s all very familiar; a movie that suffers the low budget curse of being stuck with uncharismatic no name actors and limited pyrotechnic options. The purge is a great premise with plenty of satirical potential, but in DeMonaco’s hands it always seem to fall short. Perhaps, if the series must continue, it’s time to lease the idea to an upcoming Tarantinoid with a point to prove – someone who can take the central idea and turn it into the potentially rich and funny movie that’s begging to be made, but thus far is only playing in the audience’s imagination.