The Purge films take place in a future where, one night a year, all crime is legal, including murder. In this third installment, a senator running for President on the platform of ending the annual Purge is targeted for assassination by a group that wants to see The Purge continue indefinitely.
James DeMonaco, who wrote and directed the first two films penned the screenplay for the third and is also at the helm. DeMonaco continues the satirization of our broken political system and classism that he began in the first film but those themes take center stage in this latest incarnation. DeMonaco’s timing is brilliant. His film depicts similar themes to what is going on in the current election cycle but on a largely exaggerated scale. Issues of the financial elite targeting the poor and marginalized ring true now, perhaps more than ever.
The film stars Frank Grillo from the series’ second installment and Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost). The pair has great onscreen chemistry. Their interactions are formulaic in that they are complete opposites and thus conflict ensues. But their relationship goes deeper than their surface tension and tendency to butt heads. We are already invested in Grillo’s Leo from the previous installment and Mitchell’s plucky Senator Roan is easy to warm up to. It was a smart move to allow the third film to explore more of Leo’s story. His character was probably the best thing about the second film and he doesn’t disappoint here. It also allows the picture to hit the ground running because we already know his story and don’t have to spend any time getting acquainted with him.
The first two acts of the film are particularly suspenseful and although a bit predictable, they kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s obvious that the senator will be targeted and the how, why, when, and by whom aren’t terribly difficult to figure out but that doesn’t stop it from being a lot of fun to watch everything unfold.
Although, I do have some complaints about the pacing and lack of focus in the denouement, I really enjoyed the film as a whole. The sound editing is great. There are multiple sequences that had me jumping out of my seat. Moreover, most of the scares are legitimate. There are a few cheaply rendered jump scares. But most of the frights are the real deal. The end result is a film that sustains tension for the majority of its runtime.
In addition to a suspenseful storyline, the film also boasts great practical FX work. There’s plenty of bloody violence and it is rendered the old fashioned way. Gore hounds will find plenty to feast their eyes on here, as there is no shortage of blood and guts.
The home video release of The Purge: Election Year comes with a variety of deleted scenes, a featurette, and a character spotlight on Frank Grillo’s Leo Barnes. The film is now available on DVD and Blu via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): James DeMonaco
Writer(s): James DeMonaco
Stars: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell
Release: October 4, 2016
Studio/ Production Co: Blumhouse, Platinum Dunes, Universal
Budget: $10 Million (Estimated)
Length: 105 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Anarchistic Horror