The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Posted: by Ethan

The Purge: Anarchy (2014 ) Directed by James DeMonaco

In One Sentence: Once a year, all crime is legal for twelve hours.

Why You Should Watch: Honestly, the first movie in the series does not give you a reason to watch its sequel, The Purge: Anarchy. The original was overwrought with bullshit clichés, bad acting, and a generic villain that was trying way too hard. It focused entirely on an upper-class white family that was brimming with the usual ingredients: a by-the-code, vacant father; the intentionally oblivious mother; the “my parents just don’t get it” teen daughter; and, to round this sinfully boring family out, the nerdy younger brother who is the absolute worst.

Aside from all the garbage – and there is a mountain to wade through in the original – there was always a kernel of hope – the plot. In The Purge’s version of the United States, poverty, unemployment, and crime are down. Who or what do we have to thank for these miracles? A yearly, twelve hour event known as “The Purge”. Once a year, all crime, emphasis on all, is legal for twelve hours. You guessed it, even murder is legal. Now, why, oh why does the government allow this? According to the film, the Purge is a means to cure the negative energy you experience throughout the year, thus expunging yourself of the suppressed rage and stress that leads to crime.

Hate your boss? Go get them during the Purge! Need some extra cash? Rob a bank! Is your neighbor consistently fucking up your meticulously groomed yard? Show them who is boss! Gettin’ sick of that face? Kill them!

My hope is that you can see the glaring problem with an annual Purge. For twelve hours every year, the government is providing an excuse for individuals to kill. Not to mention, there is an even greater disparity between classes. The wealthy, and even moderately wealthy, are able to hide behind their high-tech security systems as the world destroys itself. The rest of us are left to our own devices, hunted by the rich wolves who treat the Purge as a sadistic sport. This, in essence, is precisely why The Purge: Anarchy was so special.
Where the first movie failed to provide poignant socio-economic commentary with its white bread, mundane family, the second film thrives by pointing the camera where it matters: everyone else in the fucking world who cannot afford to reside in a gated community. Redirecting the focal point toward those the Purge actually affects allows the writing to shine. I resent the first movie because it throws truly original writing into the trash.

The Purge: Anarchy follows a group of survivors who, through events that transpire, find themselves together as they attempt to make it through the night. What ensues is a horrifying exploration highlighting the dichotomy, or lack thereof, between the film’s government and our own. At surface level, there is nothing implicitly similar in our government system to the Purge. Clearly we do not have a twelve hour period every year where we are allowed to run rampant. After digging a bit deeper into the thematic messages of the film, it becomes more and more difficult to see the difference between the Purge and what happens in our country every single day.

Hopefully, you have been watching and reading the news on a daily basis. What is happening in our country, specifically mass shootings and egregious institutionalized racism, is akin to the film if on a smaller scale. We may not be killing each other on a mass scale annually, but we experience the same level of casualties, the same hatred toward bodies of people, the same degree of violence. The Purge: Anarchy comments on how gross and obvious these facts are by throwing its themes repeatedly in the face of the viewer. The message is clear: are you fucking seeing this? Are you listening now?

I was shocked by how much I liked the second film, intellectually and for pure entertainment. The shadow the original cast was quickly outran as The Purge: Anarchy deals with the writing smartly and applies the appropriate setting. I cannot recommend this movie enough. Even if you are not in the mood for its cerebral side, this is a solid horror movie that operates outside of genre’s tropes (to be frank, though, you should take a long, hard look at the topics examined in the movie regardless of your mood). I know the first movie sucked, believe me. Just give this a chance. It redeems itself in every way.

Favorite Line: “We can’t have heroes”