Is “The Purge” Worth Watching?

The makers behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious really understand how to make horror movies, at least financially.

After all, the return on investment for their films is astonishing.

Recall that Paranormal Activity only cost $15,000 to make and brought in almost $200 million. Every sequel since has replicated this, albeit with higher budgets.

This weekend, The Purge, debuted at #1 in the box office, already making its entire budget in the first weekend. In a decade when horror movies aren’t exactly a safe bet for investors, Jason Blum has managed to change that with his high-concept horror movies that seem to really bring in audiences.

So, is The Purge worth watching? You’ve probably heard some bad buzz. It has been panned by critics who were disappointed at the misuse of the film’s interesting concept of what would happen if crime was legal for 12 hours.

Casual film goers have been giving mixed to bad reviews, proving that this isn’t just a critical dismissal.

The problem with The Purge is two-fold for me. The biggest issue is how limited they were with the premise. Here you have this wonderfully original backdrop for a great commentary on laws, utilitarianism, and the actual effects of unrestricted humanity.

The movie does little to address the interesting themes surrounding man’s depravity and our ill attempts at restraining it.

Gee, subtle.

Gee, subtle.

The second issue I had, and many casual viewers had, was the “in-your-face” subtext that sent a clearer message than I think they attempted. They basically could have called it, “This is What Would Happen If the Tea Party Won” and “Class Warfare 101.”

You see, the orchestrators behind this ridiculous “Purge” law are a political party that is eerily alludes to the conservative “Tea Party.” I don’t really have a problem with this concept, except that it is handled so terribly and offensively.

The real message behind this law, if you really think about it, is that the best way to handle the poor is to let criminals wipe them out once a year (hence it is called the “Purge”).

After all, the only people who are safe from the “Purge” are the rich, and the villains of the movie are clearly upper-class maniacs who are letting their true nature shine once a year.

It’s just so obvious and obtuse. Class warfare commentary was already really old when In Time came out. The whole Robin Hood thing is just getting preachy at this point, and this is coming from someone who is far from rich.

Actual marketing poster for this movie.

Actual marketing poster for this movie.

So, no I don’t think this movie is very special. It doesn’t have an interesting horror story behind it that you haven’t seen before, and the exhausting subtext does nothing to alleviate that.

There is already a sequel in the works, and I actually look forward to seeing if they can get it right the second time, but for now, this is a “nothing else to watch” rental.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

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