Little Box of Horrors – The Purge: Election Year
Now that the Electoral College has confirmed our doom, let’s comfort ourselves with a good Purge.
Many search for it, few find it. A movie so bad it’s good. Like Galahad, I wander this land (and the land’s RedBoxes), searching for my personal Holy Grail. Often I just end up being led astray by Grail-shaped beacons.
I’ve paid the Iron Price. Turns out it was $1.50.
Ah, Election Year, what a wonderful time that was. It wasn’t like a bunch of desperate poor people voted against their own self-interest and plunged the world into Hell. Nope, that didn’t happen at all. We here at Deluxe Video Online were all set to review a bunch of politically themed movies for your amusement… and then we just decided to drink ourselves senseless and claim we were observing a wake.
I tried to watch a few old school political thrillers, but every one of them just turned to ash in my mouth. So instead I decided to watch a bunch of happy movies (like the delightful Moana) instead. Having recharged my batteries, I headed to the Westbrook Shaw’s to take another tilt at a politically themed movie. I’ve already decided who survives this Red Wedding and will sit upon the Iron Throne that is my gaze. So for the other two choices, I will highlight movies whose title could be used as an insulting “euphenism” for Donald Trump.
- The Purge: Election Year. In the 3rd installment of this “iconic”, “classic”, “critically acclaimed”, “flaming piece of dog shit” series, we find our protagonists trying to survive Purge Night. Again. Running from psychos in silly masks. Again. This time it’s super duper MURICA flavored.
- Our Kind of Traitor. I probably should say something about this espionage thriller starring Ewan McGregor, but instead I’m gonna opine that the reason Trump always looks angry and stuck-up is because he has Vladimir Putin’s hand so far up his ass that it’s tickling his tonsils.
- Dirty Grandpa. This comedy looks puerile and extremely crass, but I bet the bonus footage on the DVD isn’t Zac Efron egging Robert De Niro on to tell him stories about how his celebrity lets him grab women by the p*ssy.
Let us begin the feasting, and see if this purge was worth all the bingeing I did before hand.
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
Written and directed by James DeMonaco (who wrote and directed the first two Purges), we begin our heartwarming tale with a family all cuddled up together on the couch, listening to 21st Century Boy by T-Rex. Oh wait, they aren’t so much cuddling as tied up together, crying hysterically because it’s Purge Night and the baddies are deciding who to kill next. Fast forward 18 years, and we find out that mommy dearest survived that hellish night and is now a Senator running for President on the platform of abolishing Purge Night.
This upsets the powers that be, so they decide to rescind the Purge restriction that high ranking members of the government cannot be targeted on Purge Night in the hopes that she’ll catch a mild case of being dead before the election. Being a stubborn idealist, our plucky potential president (Elizabeth Mitchell) decides to weather the night in her house rather than a perfectly secure plot-defeating bunker in a show of solidarity with her constituency. And much like our recent experience with a headstrong, stuck-in-her-ways female candidate, everyone involved is going to be in for a bad time.
‘Murican Horror Story
Shortly after the people’s champ (no, not The Rock, he was in the last movie I reviewed) decides to play Russian roulette with America’s future, we meet all the other actors in our tragic tale. And this was the part of the movie that piqued my interest. From Joe (Mykelti Williamson,) a man that won’t let his life’s work die (even if it kills him,) to Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) the tough as nails protagonist of the last Purge who has now become the Senator’s bodyguard, we get characters that are as straightforward and easy to understand as they are cliche.
Each character is an archetype, which helps the audience understand and predict how they will act. The nurse is going to forgo her better judgement if it involves saving a life. The shop owner will risk his life if it means saving his business. So on down the line. It gives plausibility to all the perils these people get themselves into, which is a vanishingly rare occurrence in horror movies. Most of the time, we get characters that make the most head-scratchingly idiotic decisions, and the tension instead becomes comedy as we see these morons march like lemmings towards their inevitable demise. I mean, I know oversexed teenagers don’t always make rational choices, but last I knew Crystal Lake wasn’t a camp site for the criminally stupid.
This made the first half hour of exposition interesting, and I was really interested to see how it was going to play out. Unfortunately….
…Waitaminute!!! This ISN’T a horror movie???
I’ve never seen a Purge movie before this one, so coming in cold I assumed the series was akin to Saw or Hostel. I thought this was going to be a grisly and claustrophobic game of cat and mouse between the Purge-ers and the Purge-ees. Instead we get a boilerplate action movie, more like Escape from New York. And this Duke does not think that is A #1.
All that set up of stock characters with obvious Achilles’ heels gets wasted when the tribulations they encounter are not of the horror variety. The good guys don’t even die in manners befitting their stereotypes! Instead of a masterful nemesis like the Jigsaw Killer, we get stereotypical political baddies in the form of a comically lame bible-thumper and a cabal of Illuminati that must have been really pissed off that they didn’t have mustaches to twirl. Walking, talking cliches for good guys? You had me. Walking, talking cliches for the villains as well? Consider this fish off the hook. Even the psycho schoolgirl killers landed with a thud. For all the bratty menace they tried to pull off, I kept expecting them to start clinking bottles while chanting “Warriors, come out and PLAY-EEEEEE”.
Adding in the political elements piles on as well. Instead of a gang of devils coming for our heroes, it turns out to just be a bunch of morons with pitchforks in red leotards. It just becomes a standard battle between good and evil. For example, a Purge resistance movement comes to our heroes aid just in time… to set up another action sequence. It just adds more gasoline to the “this is just a C-grade action movie” fire.
I thought I had one this time. A movie that used it’s stupidity brilliantly. A hook that would unintentionally elevate the movie despite its directors insistence on mediocrity. Unfortunately the movie decided to drive in a different direction, directly off a cliff.
Most horror movies boil down to some sort of gruesome game between the baddy and the protagonists. Friday the 13th and Halloween are just life or death games of hide and seek. The Saw franchise elevated the deadly game concept with unflinching gore and impossible choices, like a game of truth or dare played by monsters. Here I thought we had the Dungeon and Dragons take: the Purge-ers are the Dungeon Masters who would create scenarios that would purposely negate our characters strengths and prey on their weaknesses. Instead we got a bad action movie with a few lame nods to standard horror fare including jump scares that would have left the protagonists of Nightmare on Elm Street somnolent.
Four More Years
At least this is the last Purge movie… WHAT? PURGE 4 IS ALREADY FILMING??? The lady that swore to end the Purge got elected at the end in a landslide! The only two explanations I can imagine for this insult (other than the Studio Exec’s greed, which is a given) are both firmly rooted in reality: either the President has a Congress and House filled with obstructionist rivals that won’t pass a damn thing she proposes (Thanks, Obama!) or she’s a liar who tricked desperate poor people with a bunch of promises she had no intention of fulfilling…
And with that we’ve come full circle. Hopefully my next rental review will Make RedBox Great Again ™. God bless you, and may God have mercy on the United States of America.