The First Purge

The First Purge
Directed by Gerard McMurray
Starring Luna Lauren Velez, Chyna Layne, Melonie Diaz, Y’lan Noel, Patch Darragh, Mo McRae and Marisa Tomei
In UK Cinemas July 4th, 2018

by Gemsy

We are invited to witness the birth of a (currently) fictional American tradition as stress relief taken a step too far for the very first time in The First Purge. In a country rife with riots and civil unrest, a societal experiment is proposed to help keep crime under control for 364 days a year by revoking law for 1.

Initial utilisation of the tired-and-tested slow build of unease, especially through the naïvely optimistic characters in the face of impending anarchy, suggest a slightly formulaic paint-by-numbers-of-dead-people horror. However, The First Purge moves unexpectedly and with surprising fluidity through a number of genres: ultraviolence, conspiracy thriller and a good ol’ Die Hard-style action film (complete with mandatory ripped, white vest-clad leading man). This constant reinvention could be exhausting and lack stylistic coherence, but instead it lends a fresh feeling to what is essentially a quite clichéd plot, making it thoroughly enjoyable.

Though the cast in The First Purge are wonderful, the greatest achievement – and most unsettling aspect – of the film is how it transforms the concept of the purge itself from a seemingly far-fetched product of a dystopian society into a chillingly plausible government-led initiative. Yes, in the end it turns into a slightly farcical hero/revolution-inspiring film, but the manipulation of the lower socio-economic classes by those in power for political and financial gain is too close to reality for comfort. You’d find more refinement and subtlety in a Trump tweet than in the obvious commentary on contemporary America, but the truth behind the satire is more terrifying than any of the blood-splattering violence and leaves you with a deep feeling of unease that won’t quite dissipate.


Leave a Reply