Published On: Wed, Jul 4th, 2018

‘The First Purge’ continues the government experiment with a violent, higher death toll

Fans of the horror genre may be excited for Independence Day this year because it brings with it the opening of The First Purge, the latest of the Purge film series.  But audiences should be aware that this film may not be what you expect. Like any slasher film, there is a great deal of brutal, physical violence, but this prequel includes an added layer of terror and evil.

The story depicts the first Purge “experiment” which was limited to Staten Island, New York.  To encourage lawlessness in the 12 hour purge window, the government offers $5000 for residents to stay on the island.  But just being present isn’t enough to prove that the purging hypothesis would be successful. So, participation in active purging would lead to higher compensation…if they survive the night.  

When humanity comes shining through and residents gather to celebrate in street parties and congregate in churches, the political group behind the experiment pulls out the big guns for hire to increase the death toll and convince the country that purging is necessary. As the terror mounts and it feels like there’s no chance of escaping the uncontrollable carnage, one unlikely islander comes through like a Gangster-style Rambo to push back the highly armed mercenaries and defend as many innocents as possible.

The First Purge is terribly violent (the R rating is obvious) and disturbing on a number of levels.  This movie hits on themes of drug abuse, racism, socio-economic variances, mental health, and genocide.  Adding in the idea that the government could turn people into unwilling sacrificial lambs in this world of shootings in schools, churches, and concerts just turned my stomach.  

This film series leaves me wondering if the writers are trying to shock and terrify us or simply drive home the message that you never really know what is hidden in someone’s heart.  Either way, we know that the “bad guys” sell their idea to the country by manipulating the media and the Purge becomes an annual event nationwide. Makes you wonder if they’ll ever have an installment in the series where the country has run out of low-income residents to murder because they’ve all been killed or left the country.  How will these fine, law-abiding citizens (for 364 ½ days at least) ever deal with their anger then?

The First Purge receives 3 out of 5 stars

Review by Debbie Sage

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