‘The First Purge’ kicks off season of horror flicks
“Get off the street and into the church,” sound like words of sanctuary beckoning, except it’s on Staten Island, scene of a limited government experiment intended to lower the nation’s crime rate.
Saturated by brief “what makes you angry” exchanges among ordinary Island residents, a pseudo social worker convinces reluctant low income high risers to stay in the venue and participate in “The First Purge,” a synonym for 12 hours of lawless amnesty as a means of allowing the angry populace to vent their urges.
“The First Purge” has two arcs- the preliminary recruitment/protest phase and the escalating long night of instigated massacres. During the first “arc,” we meet three protagonists, Purge protestor Nya (Lex Scott Davis), her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade), and her ex-boyfriend Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), the leader of a drug-dealing gang.
Interestingly, director Gerard McMurray and screenwriter James DeMonaco’s satiric urges have the neighborhood gangs standing neutral. It’s an unexpected deviation eliminating natural revenge warfare.
My use of “satiric urge” betrays the awkward trades from obvious symbolic subtleties reflecting the nation’s jagged split values and surging inequalities. Here the “experiment” and planted social psychologist (Marisa Tomei) forsake creative symbolism for quickly exploited testaments to the Charleston church shooting, white supremacist march in Charlottesville and a brief flash of rogue purging cops.
Further, “The First Purge” rules are slightly vague concerning non-participants remaining – until the church ambush, a stay inside lure versus defensive postures prevail. This premise has residents testing the dark secluded streets for parameters.
For franchise fans, this wobbles increasing away from overt political elements in act 2, dipping into an action genre where out numbered and out weaponed dysonian Colosseum “subjects” are under siege. John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York” comes to mind with a tip of “The Warriors.” Tarnished, yet strong protagonists, cleverly ascertain the experiment’s ultimate foundation, which coupled with the first flick in the series marginally enlivens the think tank which empties in favor of duck and shoot in the hood.
Ultimately “The First Purge” chillingly reflects the state of the nation. It’s what’s next that leaves this writer frighteningly uncomfortable
UNFRIENDED DARK WEB: A cache of files on a used laptop lead to the dark web which plunge a group of twentysomething’s into more a part of cyber space previously unknown. Described as a “solid chiller” that surrounds satanic curses, one viewer wrote you’ll be nervously suspicious off every friend request you receive.
A myth from Something Awful Photoshop forums that led to two 12-year-olds attempting to murder a friend, the movie comes out nearly 7 years after the myth started. Troubled young girls, scary forests and stabbing fuel this look back the incidents.
Having spin off roots in two “Conjuring” films and “Annabelle: Creation,” starring American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga, a Romanian Monastry becomes the heaven/hell battleground for the birth of demonic nun, Valek.
Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for HuntingtonNews.net and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.