Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: The First Purge

The prequel to the horror series has plenty to say. It's just no good at saying it.

Photo © 2018 Universal Pictures.

I did not anticipate the direction that the “Purge” franchise has taken.

After seeing the taut, enjoyable original film, I hoped a sequence of cheap, survival-horror thrills would follow. “The Purge” didn’t spend much time on why, exactly, law-abiding citizens indulged in a night of legally sanctioned mayhem and rampant murder one night per year; it quickly established that premise and then followed one family as they tried to make it through the night.

I expected a series of similar zoom-ins from the inevitable franchise, picking out bits of purging from one year to the next. (I’d still enjoy seeing that series.) Instead, the Purge switched from horror to action — and went heavy on the commentary.

Now, with prequel “The First Purge,” the entire endeavor is about the social message. In an alternate 2012, a new political party came to power; two years later, they instituted a social experiment by which people were free to release their pent-up aggression one night per year. “The First Purge” is less a movie about the specifics of that night, though, as it is a parable: When governments realize they don’t have solutions for everyone, they start trying to eliminate the people they can’t help.

Sure, there’s a bit of a plot. There’s an anti-Purge activist whose kid brother defies her and heads out to get revenge on the neighborhood sociopath. There’s a gang leader who is determined to remain above the fray until his rivals use the night as a chance to come for the throne. There’s a church full of peaceful worshippers. Safely off-site, there’s a scientist whose intentions are good and a mid-level government flunky who really needs to see some gore to keep things on-message. (The performers are utterly anonymous, except for Marisa Tomei as the scientist. None, including Tomei, distinguish themselves.)

I remain bewildered as to why this alleged horror series keeps creating low-budget action flicks rather than focusing on the scares. Blumhouse, the producers of pretty much every profitable scare feature in recent memory, seem to think that some scenes of creepy masks will do the trick in between bargain-bin shoot-em-up sequences; other than a few nicely atmospheric stretches early in the evening, there are no frights to be found.

Oddly, the social commentary is spot-on and decently insightful. It would be better if there were a decent picture attached, but let’s take what we can get.


My Rating: 4/10

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

A Cake So Nice It Doesn’t Need to Be Iced

The “naked cake” seems to be here to stay.

Casey Renee is the Sweet Dream Maker

Salt, technique and high-quality ingredients help the Whitfield at Ace Hotel pastry chef craft ridiculously craveable desserts.

Perspectives: The Big Pittsburgh Lie

Writer Damon Young says the Steel City is masquerading as a paragon of inclusion.

MultiStories: The Violent Beginning of Union Station

Pittsburgh's Union Station –– built after its predecessor was destroyed in a deadly labor dispute –– nearly succumbed to the wrecking ball in 1966.

Too Hot for School? Science Supports Heat Dismissals

In Pittsburgh, early school dismissals are usually for snowstorms.

A Day in the Life of Andrew Stump

What's a typical work day like for the co-owner of Madeline Bakery & Bistro?

Can Brown Rebound? Steelers Had Better Hope So

Antonio Brown's tweets, threats and tantrums wouldn’t seem to matter nearly as much if he'd caught more than 18 passes for a relatively measly 160 yards through the first two games.

Gallery Crawl Sneaks Into Downtown Alleyways

This Friday, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will help kick off the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts with “Art in the Alley.”

The 400-Word Review: The House With a Clock in its Walls

Jack Black stars in a family-friendly horror flick that isn't afraid to scare its young viewers.

Ghost of the Tight Man: What Happened to Sam Davis

Sam Davis once was the glue that held the super Steelers together. But a promising career after football was cut short by an unexplained fall that robbed him of the life he knew.

‘Sometimes I'm Happy’ – The Life of Singer Jill Corey

Born in a tiny Westmoreland County town, Jill Corey became a star for Columbia Records in the 1950s. But after a series of hits, a love affair with Frank Sinatra and marriage to famed Pirate third baseman Don Hoak, her life took an unexpected twist.

Restaurant Review: Spork

Despite an inconsistent start, Christian Frangiadis' restaurant now is worth visiting.

Knights of the Flat Screen – Pittsburgh's Video Game Champs

Founded by a pair of Pittsburgh natives, the Knights are a professional esports franchise whose players participate in video game competitions in front of millions of fans in person and online.

How to Enjoy a Haunted House

Don't get to Halloween attractions much anymore? You might be doing it wrong.

Get Wild With Food This Weekend

For more than 50 years, a West Virginia group has promoted the virtues of foraged food.