Movie Review: The Purge-Anarchy (2014) *Minor Spoilers*

I don’t like horror as a genre, and I have a contemptuous hate for the torture porn that’s sprung up in the decade since the first SAW was released.  I do like suspense.  I do like something different.  I do like “What If?” versions.  2003’s The Purge, hinted at an interesting alternate America, but in the end was a glorified slasher flick.  With last year’s The Purge: Anarchy, director James DeMonaco, widens the lens and shows a Purge on a city level.

To recap, in the world of Purge, the government has been overthrown and replaced by the New Founding Fathers of America.  In a bizarre effort to curb rampant crime and poverty, their solution was that every March 21st, all crime (except crime against high-ranking government leaders) is legal for 12 hours.  This includes murder.  From sundown to sun-up, anything goes, anything is legal.  The purpose, as reasoned, is to release the pent aggression of the population and weed-out those members of society who are no longer capable of defending themselves.  It’s a cull.


The Purge: Anarchy follows the story lines of several people trying to survive Purge Night in Los Angeles.  The most recognizable face is probably Frank Grillo, who had a major part in last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  The group makes its way through a horror-scape of depravity, on the way debating the origins, true purpose and morality of The Purge.

DeMonaco has interesting concepts to play with: stratification, America’s sick obsession with guns, the festering anger in society; a rage that nearly everyone today can feel simmering just under the surface of our discourse.  He could have also just made a straight-up alternate America story.  The problem with The Purge: Anarchy is DeMonaco tries to do ALL of this, while still retaining enough gore and slaughterhouse cred to rack in the horror junkies.  This had a surprising amount of potential, but in the end it couldn’t decide its direction and that undermined the film’s chance to make any lasting impact.

One thought on “Movie Review: The Purge-Anarchy (2014) *Minor Spoilers*”

  1. I love Kubrick’s The Shining. I love Cronenberg’s The Fly. That’s pretty much where it ends with me when it comes to horror movies. I’m a little more open to horror as a literary form.

    Theoretically, horror should allow us to experience our fears in a safe way. Theoretically, horror in small doses is actually healthy. In practice… there are just a lot of really bad horror movies out there.

    This Purge thing sounds like it’s reveling in what it purports to condemn. I will happily pass.


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