Stars: Frank Grillo, Edwin Hodge, Betty Gabriel, Kyle Secor, JJ Soria, Mykelti Williamson, Elizabeth Mitchell | Written and Directed by James DeMonaco
The Purge franchise was always an intersting concept – the idea that on one night all laws were abolished and anything was legal, including murder, made for a decent horror thriller. The sequel took things one step further, up the action quotient and the excitement, and making the second movie was more of an apocalyptic take on the first films story; and it was all the better for it… However it’s this third movie, Election Year, where this particular franchise truly hits its stride.
The third chapter in franchise, The Purge: Election Year sees the government preparing for its annual Purge, the one night a year when all crime is legal. It has been two years since Leo Barnes (Grillo) stopped himself from a regrettable act of revenge on Purge Night – the 12 hours of lawlessness. This year, the annual ritual comes at the eve of a heated presidential election with the nation deeply divided between those who are pro- and anti-Purge. As head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Mitchell) – presidential hopeful who wishes to abolish the country’s violent tradition – Leo’s mission is to protect her during this years purge night. But when a betrayal forces them onto the streets of Washington, D.C. on the one night when no help is available, they must stay alive or both be sacrificed for their sins against the state.
The home entertainment release of The Purge: Election Year couldn’t be more timely. After all, what is happening in the world today feels very much like we’re headed into the same political anarchy as seen in James DeMonaco’s films. Yet whilst Election Year feels very much like a diatribe on US internal politics, and the politics of rich vs poor as a whole, you can’t help but think that there’s a skewed view of the world at work within the film too.
Some of the rhetoric feels very much like that of extreme far-right political rallies: with “foreigners” coming in to take part in the purge and ruining what is an “American Tradition.” Then there’s the scene of said foreigners then being killed without mercy by our heroic American leads -it’s like US foreign policy wrote large on the screen! Of course, that those murder tourists (a fantastic term coined by writer/director James DeMonaco) only want a piece of the American purge dream says even more about Election Year‘s politics…
Visually The Purge: Election Year is stunning (as usual). The eerie masks, the sheer joy with which the participants revel in murder and the outright craziness of those participating in the purge, all play into the idea of this one night of the year being lawlessness at its most audacious. There hasn’t been a film that shows how bleak, politically, the future of American could be since John Carpenter’s classic 1981 sci-fi Escape from New York – in fact this IS that film for the modern era. Yes, the violence is more terrifying, the politics more extreme, but both films share the same basic ideology: the world is going to hell in a handcart.
The Blu-ray release of The Purge: Election Year includes the following bonus features: Deleted Scenes; Inside The Purge featurette, which features interviews with James DeMonaco, producer Jason Blum, and cast members Frank Grillo, Edwin Hodge and Mykelti Williamson; plus a “Character Spotlight” on Leo, which follows actor Frank Grillo as he works on his characters stunts and choreography.
The Purge: Election Year is available on Digital Download now. The film is released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 26th.