There’s something you should know about me before we get heavily into this review, as I think it’s important to note in the context of a movie like The Purge: I’m terrified of home invasion. In fact, I’m so terrified of home invasion that I have frequent nightmares about it. They can be as simple as a recurrent moment where I’m struggling to hold the front door shut against someone trying to push in from the outside, or as complex as a full-blown home-invasion scenario where I’m fighting for my life and my family’s lives with what few weapons we have at our disposal in this house. Since I don’t own guns, that generally boils down to knives, and I’ve had some truly gruesome and painful dreams involving stabbing and being stabbed.
It’s not that I live in an area where this sort of thing is common. Crime where I live is relatively mild, despite the odd Peeping Tom or murder or what have you. You’re far more likely to run across a drunk driver than a home invader. Yet the fear lingers, and anytime I watch a movie like The Purge, I’m thrust headlong into the dark cavern of my own terror. You might even think that my seeing a movie like this one is masochistic, but I look at it as a way to build up my tolerance, like exposing oneself to ever-higher doses of poison.
The Purge is set in 2022 in an America reborn into greatness. Crime is virtually unheard of, unemployment is about one percent and the economy is strong. Or, at least, the economy is strong for a certain segment of the public, just as it is today. The richer get richer. The poor get screwed. In that respect, nothing has changed.
How did this new age come to be? Well, after a quadruple-dip recession and a catastrophic bank collapse, among other things, the United States government was essentially hijacked by a group called the New Founding Fathers, who fashioned the country into a right-wing paradise. Hence the rich getting richer part, not to mention the poor and their exploitation. And one of their most radical ideas is the Purge, an annual event where, for twelve hours, all laws are suspended. For that period of time, seven in the evening to seven in the morning, a person can do anything he or she wants without legal repercussion. The police aren’t out there helping out (and might even be participating in the orgy of crime) and there are no ambulances or fire department vehicles.