“The First Purge” stars Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, and Marisa Tomei. Released on July 4, 2018, the film showcases the first attempt at allowing legal crime for one night.
The film is directed by Gerard McMurray, who also directed “Burning Sands”, and it is a prequel to the 2013 horror film, “The Purge”. “The Purge” introduced a concept in which all crime, including murder, will be legal for exactly 12 hours. Unfortunately, that concept was overshadowed by the film’s home invasion thriller cliches. Its sequels, “Anarchy” and “Election Year”, were able to correct those mistakes by exploring what actually happens during the annual “Purge”. This latest installment in the violent horror franchise will take audiences back in time to where it all started. No, I’m not talking about going back to the first film in the series. I’m talking about going back in time to when people first came up with the “Purge” strategy that, like most political strategies, has its share of pros and cons (mostly the cons, in this case). I already experienced the first three “Purge” films, so it wouldn’t be right if I missed out on talking about the fourth film in the series. From the looks of it, the film does feature plenty of violence and thrills that the franchise is known for, but will it be able to bring in some newcomers?
Similar to the last three “Purge” installments, “The First Purge” centers around a group of characters trying to survive an annual 12-hour event that allows people to express their aggression and commit all types of crime without any consequences. If you’ve seen one “Purge” film, you’ve practically seen them all, especially this film. Aside from the fact that it briefly explores how the Purge came to be and people’s political opinions on the controversial experiment, the film added absolutely nothing new, frightening, and exciting to the formula, resulting in a tiresome and predictable experience. It may prove useful to some newcomers since it is a prequel to the franchise, but for those who have watched the other “Purge” movies, it’s a step-by-step routine that delivers its violent nature, but lacks the heart and scares of its debatable concept. Speaking of scares, the film does have a few jump scares, but like in most generic horror films, they’re more annoying than scary. Gerard McMurray takes the driver’s seat for this installment, leaving franchise creator James DeMonaco to only serve as a producer and a writer. You can clearly see the style and tone that the film is going for based on DeMonaco’s vision, and as a person who has no experience with the director, I thought McMurray did a pretty nice job in maintaining the film’s consistent sense of dread and fear as well as keeping DeMonaco’s vision alive. Despite the characters being one-dimensional and forgettable, the cast was able to deliver some passable performances, including Y’Lan Noel and Lex Scott Davis as Dimitri and Nya, respectively.
Overall, “The First Purge” may impress fans of the horror franchise, but in terms of creativity and characters, it serves as a reminder that the concept has overstayed its welcome. The cast was decent in their roles and McMurray’s direction was suitable in delivering the dreadful tone that the series is known for. However, they’re not enough to attract a lot of newcomers due to its lack of scares, mediocre characters, and its predictable formula. I guess I’m already starting to think that with all of the stupidity and violence going on in the real world, it’s time for this franchise to call it quits. I’m fine with people liking this one because they enjoyed the other “Purge” films, but there are others like me who’ve grown tired of people committing such idiotic acts for no reason in real life, and because of that, they don’t feel like watching something that glorifies violence and stupidity. This isn’t one of the reasons why I didn’t like the film. This is more of a personal feeling that I would like to share with you readers.