DVD Review: The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
**WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS**
As it is every year, us horror fanatics don’t always get to see all the genre movies we’d like therefore the new year is the perfect time to catch up. I’m not exactly sure how The Purge: Anarchy slipped me by, it made its way onto my list of most anticipated horror of 2014 and played an integral role in mine and Caitlyn Downs home invasion podcast episode and article as we debated whether the film would begin a whole new horror franchise. Up until viewing I attempted to avoid any sort of spoilers surrounding the crimes/deaths in the film, however when I glimpsed at some of the reviews and imdb forums it appeared that The Purge: Anarchy hadn’t made the expected impact. It even made its way onto some of the worst films of 2014 lists which wasn’t reassuring.
The Purge: Anarchy is set in a dystopian near future, it uses exactly the same concept from the 2013 James DeMonaco original. The new founding father’s created The Purge, one night of the year where all crime is legal including murder. The Purge is essential to the survival of American society meaning that throughout the year crime, poverty and unemployment statistics are amazingly low. Unlike the 2013 film where the focus is on one middle class suburban family with a home invasion plot, this sequel diverts from that taking the concept in a whole different direction, depicting the wider impact of The Purge on several members of society and also provides a deeper insight into issues of race and class.
There’s some powerful imagery that suggests a power struggle between upper and lower class, particularly with the masked thug who has ‘GOD’ written on his forehead. As seen in the original film there was prejudice and tension relating to the poor African American male that sought refuge in the Sandin family’s home, this time round the masked thugs are in fact African American, but rather than kill they capture anyone and everyone who are on the streets in exchange for money. An African American protester named Carmelo (Michael Kenneth Williams) is also at the forefront of the chaos, bravely speaking out against the new founding father’s and is joined by Dwayne (Edwin Hodge) the bloody stranger previously mentioned from part one. For everyone involved its all about survival. The sick and twisted ideologies of the upper class is exposed which is most startling with the image of a group of wealthy aristocrats ready to slice up a poor, ill man they have bidded on with a machete in order for him to leave some money behind for his struggling family. The scene is simply implied with no blood or gore in sight but is enough to evoke fear, demonstrating how the purge is designed for the rich to take the upper hand especially with the use of the flashback meaning that his family are too late to save him.
If you’re a fan of the first, The Purge: Anarchy is unlikely to disappoint. The characters are well written and on the whole likeable which is not always the case with mainstream horror. Its about a group of strangers from different walks of life with different agendas that come together and are forced to trust each other in the ultimate fight for survival.
There’s mother and daughter Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and Cali ( Zoë Soul) who are brutally forced out of their home. As an audience we experience the fear along with them as the two are almost brutalized based on their race and status. Carmen Ejogo and Zoë Soul are electrifying as terrified women who keep away from the carnage every year only to be thrown into it to realize their full potential and strength when it counts.
Frank Grillo plays the mysterious sergeant Leo Barnes, the anti-hero with an ambiguous agenda. He risks it all in order to protect others but what is his dark secret and what was he doing on the streets during the night of the purge?! Grillo’s performance is intense, everyone’s lives are in his hands and it leaves us to question, can this man really be trusted?
Finally there’s unfortunate couple Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) who’s car breaks down minutes before The Purge commences. The couple face a difficult stage in their relationship however after being caught up in the chaos of the night, will they make it out alive or will their problems cause distraction? While being the least favourite characters within the film, Liz and Shane are harmless enough and certainly don’t deserve the devastation and panic endured by their unlucky situation.
Acceptably The Purge: Anarchy won’t hold appeal to everyone especially those not sold by the first one. For me, its still a slick thrill ride of suspense, action and danger with some disturbing yet interesting ideas at play. Its far more explosive than the original and is bold in what it does by not sticking to a repetitive formula. The hybrid of genres with it being a horror, action and thriller makes it all the more gripping. While I wasn’t sold on the idea of any more sequels, The Purge 3 will be hitting cinema screens this summer on the 1st July. DeMonaco is at the helm once again as director therefore it’ll be interesting to see how he refreshes the concept for a third instalment. Admirably the consistency so far of DeMonaco’s vision strengthens the films as a franchise. They are far more intelligent than the churned out Paranormal Activity sequels for sure. The Purge: Anarchy is certainly worth a watch as it once again demonstrates how dangerous a human being can turn if given the ultimate permission to kill!
Hayley Alice Roberts.