The Purge…what a money making franchise it has turned out to be. Coming to life in 2013, it seemed like a really intriguing idea. What if, for one night, only all crime was legal? What if one night only Americans were allowed to unleash the beast inside them? Well, according to The Purge it would mean the other 364 days of the year, no-one would commit crimes because they had fed the beast, so to speak.
Yes, with the most cursory of analysis, The Purge and its gaping plot holes are exposed. Perhaps if it hadn’t taken itself so seriously, it might have been more enjoyable. It was then followed up by The Purge: Anarchy in 2014 and The Purge: Election Year in 2016. Both of which added political elements and corrupt government power plays to the basket. Fun…
Finally in 2018 we went where all horror franchises go when they run out of ideas…backwards. The First Purge is a prequel and a pretty lacklustre one at that. It was nothing but a rehash of the original movie but with even less to say.
You can read our reviews of each movie below:
So with four Purge movies seen and none particularly enjoyed, there really wasn’t much appetite for a 10 episode Amazon series. What on earth could it possibly add to an already bloated and leaking franchise?
Well, it doesn’t add anything but to its credit, it doesn’t really try. When it does, those ideas are half-baked and unsatisfying. The world of The Purge has been built, we’ve seen everything it has to offer. So instead, the TV series takes the character focused approach and is all the better for it. Is it a great show? Absolutely not. Like a whack-job on Purge Night, it just can’t help itself sometimes. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed a lot of it and cared about certain characters.
It begins about an hour before The Purge is due to start. The entire series takes place over this one night with the final scenes in episode 10 occurring as the Purge ends. Already a solid idea.
As the Purge nears we meet our characters for the night. We have Miguel Guerrero (Gabriel Chavarria), a US Marine who has arrived home on Purge night having received a message from his sister, Penelope (Jessica Garza).
Hannah Emily Anderson and Colin Woodell as Jenna and Rick Betancourt, a married couple who are hoping to get funding for a housing project so are cosying up to the NFFA at a party for the rich. The daughter of the NFFA party host, Lila Stanton (Lili Simmons) also has history with the couple.
Then we have Jane Barbour (Amanda Warren), a hard-working woman. One who has come to realise that she won’t get anywhere in her job while her boss (William Baldwin) is still alive. Finally we have Joe Owens (Lee Tergesen), a seemingly normal man who spends Purge night saving people.
This is the main cast but there are a whole host of side characters to help the story move forward such as Pete the Cop (Dominic Fumusa), Albert Stanton (Reed Diamond) as one of the New Founding Fathers of America and Fiona Dourif as Good Leader Travis. She heads a cult that have decided to sacrifice themselves to Purgers, a cult that Penelope has joined.
This is the main focus of Miguel’s Purge night, trying to find and save his sister from the cult. The idea of a cult sacrificing themselves to Purgers is a great idea and Fiona Dourif kills it as the leader, easily one of the most memorable performances from the series. This is something a little different and as we follow Miguel and his search we get to see a sometimes different side of the Purge. Only sometimes though, a lot of the time it is business as usual unfortunately.
You know the score by now…supposedly creepy masks, slow motion silliness, glow sticks and inane violence. Uninteresting and thankfully, kept to a minimum. The show seems to know how dumb these moments are but still can’t help itself, it’s like a Purge requirement.
It certainly doesn’t take any risks here but elsewhere there are some interesting elements that are explored. Elements like the glass ceiling for a woman in the world of finance and what she would do to break through it. Or the group who go out on Purge night to save abused women. Or how a petty dispute about parking could lead to potential murder.
Ok, this last one is not so good. Although it’s a brief sequence in one of the later episodes, it once again highlights the flaw in the whole Purge story. For it to work, most of America have to be foaming at the mouth, would be murderers and I just don’t buy it. To its credit, the show tries to tighten that loose end by having characters talk about the repercussions of the Purge. It pushes the idea that everyone has become so convinced that the Purge will free them of their issues but for goodness sake, life could not go on the day after. Stop pretending it will!
Get used to hearing this. Get used to preachy speeches about how good the Purge is/how bad the Purge is. Some of these characters just love the sound of their own voice and it is infuriating. Remember the lead Purger from the first movie, Henry? How could you forget that nutball? Take that, remove the fun silliness and multiply it.
It’s a relief when we cut from these rambling conversations to refocus on our main characters and there are no real bad performances. The path some go down isn’t always the most interesting (The Betancourt’s story runs out of steam early on) but most are quite compelling. It’s a shame that the show takes a really interesting character in vigilante Joe and turn him into a cartoon by the finale. A vigilante that stops acts of violence by dishing out violence to Purgers? We could have had something here.
The Purge works better as a show simply because of the character focusing. It can take its time and let us get to know and care about them. That makes it better instantly, however it’s still the Purge, a flawed and plot hole ridden story. The show can’t fix that but with a bit more bravery perhaps we can really explore different, more real ideas in season 2. I wouldn’t bank on it but you never know.
The Purge - Season 1