UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2018)
Director: Gerard McMurray
Starring: Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Mugga, Lauren Velez, Marisa Tomei

The Purge franchise returns – don’t all rush forward in delight.

 

Five years on from the original movie, The First Purge marks the fourth movie in the franchise and acts as a prequel to that 2013 Ethan Hawke led offering. Where that movie was a smaller home-invasion flick, subsequent offerings Anarchy and Election Year have spread nationwide and upped the violence with each attempt. They’re also violently average. So, could The First Purge buck the trend?

 

Sigh.

The New Founding Fathers of America have taken over the government in the USA and quickly announce a radical new experiment – inhabitants of Staten Island will have the opportunity to ‘purge’ – in other words, do what the hell they want, however illegal – for twelve hours straight with no consequences to face for their actions. With money on offer for those that take part, inevitably there are some good people who rally against the rising violence. But we know there are three movies to come. So…

 

The onslaught of origin movies continues (God, I hate that word…origin) and it’s another unnecessary addition in the shape of The First Purge. The franchise as a whole is oozing mediocrity so this movie had a pretty low bar to reach. If you enjoyed the first three, then you’ll surely enjoy this, however, there’s no avoiding the fact that it is utter dross. It’s the same old song once more but with the addition of a ridiculous change of tone in the final act that solidifies the soiled nappy that this movie is. On a better note, Y’lan Noel and Lex Scott Davis are decent here, but that’s about it.

 

But hey, it’s an excuse for more neon lights. Because…well…because.

 

The Purge worked best when it was a smaller, tighter movie playing on its horror themes and whilst the sequels had their moments, they very quickly ran out of ideas and steam. The need to see the reason behind it may have been a good idea after the first movie came out, but now it just seems tired and nothing more than a cash grab (small budgets and decent returns will do that). The story follows the same path as before all the way up to the obvious finale, and nothing revelatory comes out of it that adds to the following movies in the franchise. It may just have been an excuse to have neon contact lenses and to get Marisa Tomei in a blonde wig.

 

The character of Skeletor (Rotimi Paul) was decent for the sheer madness he brought to his scenes, and, as mentioned, Noel and Davis are good with what they have to do but there’s no tension here whatsoever as contrivance and cliché run rampant through Staten Island.

 

I genuinely don’t like the phrase “that movie didn’t NEED to be made”, but sadly it does apply here – I’m struggling to find reasons for The First Purge to exist. Nothing is added to the franchise, it’s exactly the same as what came before and there’s no excitement or atmosphere. I’d imagine this will be the final nail in the coffin of the franchise, but, never say never dependant on box office. Halfway through, I was begging to be Purged myself.

 

Sadly, no Adelaide Kane, but THANKFULLY, THANKFULLY, THANKFULLY NO MAX BURKHOLDER.

July 27th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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