Tuesday, July 19, 2016

[Review] The Purge: Election Year

One annual night of free-for-all mayhem. Everything is legal. Even murder.

The Purge series has always shown potential with this interesting premise that's ripe for thrilling horror and dark social commentary, but the results have always been disappointingly mixed. However, the 3rd installment The Purge: Election Year is easily the best effort yet.

It's the middle of a presidential race. Frank Grillo (with an awesome haircut) returns from The Purge: Anarchy and is now a bodyguard for shining anti-Purge nominee played by Elizabeth Mitchell. Meanwhile, a hearty store owner Joe (Mykelti Williamson, a badass addition) is doing his best to protect his business from being raided. On call is Laney (Betty Gabriel, also badass), who runs a triage van, helping the good people caught in The Purge. It's safe to say the chaos ensues quickly.

Even though the overall duration runs longer than it needs to, this go-around is a lot more focused, visually arresting, and it strikes harder with its overtones. Turns out, the 1%-ers have been using Purge Night as a way to assassinate the poor. So the narrative comes off as a frenzied dystopian protest to corruption and injustice, economic disparity, gun violence, and harsh American hypocrisy. It's like a demented satirical cartoon come to life. The brash themes are surprisingly relevant to the current turbulence of the Trump-heavy political climate and the country's escalating anxieties.

But don't get it twisted, this is still a messy, gruesome, pulpy, exploitative, sadistic summer spectacle with a ludicrous setup, depicting people at their utmost horrific and insane. The film journeys further into Saw territory than ever before, as elaborately masked purgers bring out the nasty torture devices and guillotines. There's even a Spring Breakers recall scene of scantily clad 20-somethings wielding golden assault rifles from their LED-lit car while "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus plays.

I should also mention that we actually care about the main protagonists this time (especially as they face off against a group of neo-Nazis). And while the script sends out some lousy dialogue, there are a couple of memorable lines: "What in the Mississippi fuck were you doing out on Purge Night, Senator?" And this exchange: "Over my dead body!" / "Then you better drop dead."

( 7/10 )

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