I recently got the chance to catch up on a couple of interesting movies: The Purge (2013), and its sequel, The Purge: Anarchy (2014). Both are set several years in the future, and share a common premise: Every year, for one twelve-hour period from 7pm to 7am, all crime — including murder — is legal. This twelve-hour period is called The Purge. It was instituted by “The New Founding Fathers of America” (NFFA), when the country was “reborn” after a complete economic and social collapse.
As you might imagine, both movies are rated R and are very violent. These are not appropriate for kids. I’d add that both contain a fair amount of profanity, but minimal sensuality (one make-out scene, and a threatened rape or two).
If you do choose to watch these films, I’d recommend watching the sequel first. It gives a much broader picture of the annual Purge, showing all the chaos in the streets that you’d expect. The first movie (which I’d recommend watching second) focuses on a single upper-class family that suffers a home invasion during the annual Purge. Many viewers were disappointed with the first movie, because they thought they were going to be getting something more like the sequel. The nice thing about waiting for Netflix is that you can watch them in any order you want! BTW, the second movie contains no spoilers about the first, and none of the characters carry over. There’s nothing you’ll be “missing” in the second one, the way you usually would if you skipped an initial installment of a series. In fact, I’d argue that you’ll enjoy the first movie more if you’ve already seen The Purge: Anarchy. You’ll have a better sense for what the annual Purge is about, so you’ll appreciate it when it comes home for one family.
So, why was the annual Purge instituted? The NFFA argue that it’s an effective means of channeling criminal tendencies. Everyone gets an annual outlet for their pent-up rage. Everyone gets to “purge” that rage, if they so choose. Furthermore, it’s said to control crime because so many troublemakers — especially the urban poor — go out in the streets and kill each other off once a year. As an additional benefit, unemployment has plummeted to virtually nothing, because the Purge kills off so much of the “excess population.” The well-to-do are able to afford security measures that effectively isolate themselves from the chaos in the streets. The impoverished and the unemployed, especially those who live in big cities, are left to fend for themselves.
These movies are dark and disturbing. They’re also thought-provoking. But before I share those thoughts, let’s get a few gripes out of the way: