The premise of The Purge is intriguing: to reduce crime in the U.S. there’s an annual purification night during which the law is not enforced. Everyone who feels the need to act out can do so to purify their souls, which means people can literally get away with murder. That’s why the wealthy Sandins have fortified their home and stay in during the night, ensuring their survival. But when their son lets a stranger into the house things take a turn for the worse.
While The Purge‘s central idea is interesting and it definitely has potential, the execution leaves much to be desired. The slasher cliches quickly pile up, the characters keep acting like they’ve lost their capacity for thinking and cheap jump scares take away from the broody tension the film sometimes quite effectively builds up. The Purge‘s only real indisputable strength is the casting of its two leads though. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, who portray Mr. and Mrs. Sandin, manage to ground the story and give some depth to their underwritten parts. Rhys Wakefield’s also quite impressive as the polite young leader of a gang of psychopaths that shows up at the Sandin residence.
Unfortunately The Purge doesn’t make good on its promising central idea. The writing and direction are lackluster, the scares cheap, and even its two strong leads can’t save this effort from mediocrity. 5/10