A film to cleanse the soul
It’s strange how art and life are always in a dance and those of us that are hip to this form of reality tend to notice elements of application. It’s even more powerful when art is presented in a way of exploration of the inner-self. Basically, asking questions of ourselves. I am making this declaration for a reason that will come later. So class, how are these statements relevant? Simple, such art can be used to shock the soul into awareness, when it lives in confused shadow. This is the world of James DeMonaco’s 2013 masterpiece (yeah, I said masterpiece) The Purge.
I haven’t followed Horror, in the modern sense, for a very long time. I believe the remake trend was getting fired up around the time I walked away and seeing that waste of time known as Hostel didn’t help matters any. It took years for me to give in to a friend of mine and watch Saw, which I also thought was boring. I still do. However, in the spirit of checking out some unexplored corners of the genre I love so much, and after a pretty clean description from another friend, I decided to give this flick a shot. When the opening credits got going and I saw the name of cinema’s butcher, Michael Bay on the production list, I nearly stopped watching immediately. That is another article, entirely! Well, that whole spirit thing I mentioned a moment ago had me putting my rage in check and I stayed on board, rather than leaping into the water when the opportunity presented itself. And I am quite pleased with the results. This was an amazing film!
The plot is one of the biggest social comments I’ve heard in some time. In order to establish a more organized and peaceful America, one night out of each year is devoted to crime being legal. Everything horrible is perfectly acceptable for twelve straight hours in order to cleanse the animal instincts out of the people, so everyone can be peaceful and happy. This is publicly known and celebrated as The Purge. Oddly enough, there are rules to this purge, which is an instant contradiction in terms, yet people don’t seem to mind. Guess what the main rule is? The Purge does not allow the killing of important governmental figures, which to me was a hilarious glimpse of where such thinking would come from in the first place. Kill each other, just not the suits! We are told that this is a wonderful world where crime is non-existent for the remainder of the year; unemployment is 1%, blah blah blah. Spin doctoring is alive and well in the future, folks. We meet some wealthy people, including Ethan Hawke, who plays a security-system salesman of the grandest scale. It is worth mentioning he sold systems to everyone in his precious little gated community and his house is, of course, the biggest. Who says Freud has been dis-proven? The most psychotic side of this world is the “enlightened” people that support the purge are encouraged to put certain flowers in their front lawn to show said support. This is while they hide in their turbo-charged, security-pens, mind you. Hawke’s family is all here and I must say my favorite character is the son, played by Max Burkholder, for reasons you will figure out quickly if you watch this beast. When the lock down hits and everyone is doing their own thing in the house, Burkholder notices there is someone hurt in the street and screaming for help. Since the boy actually has a conscience, he deactivates the system and lets the man in. The family does not agree with his actions and a bit of mayhem begins to take over the home. But that is nothing compared to the next batch of visitors they get. A large group of “highly educated” upper class youths show up wearing creepy masks with machetes and guns, demanding the family returns the “homeless pig” to them, as he had killed one of their own in an attempt to defend himself and must be punished. Can someone say double standard? The rich kids threaten to kill everyone in the house if the family does not return this man to them, alive. Now we really get into some questions of the soul!
Since I took you into the conflict of act two, I’ll leave the rest be. I want you to see this mother and be as surprised and lured in one direction, only to get yanked into another one, as I was. I haven’t had my body jump from a well executed scare in a Horror film for years and years and I laughed with joy when it happened! I even knew what they were building to in one particular scene, as it was a textbook scare, yet it still shocked me! I cannot deny you, oh faithful reader, these moments of Horror Fun!
Now for the part of asking one’s self questions that I mentioned earlier. Literally ten minutes after we finished watching this, my friend and I left his apartment to visit another friend across town. When we walked into the empty and totally black parking lot, there was a man messing with my car! I called out to him, asking what he was doing to my car, to which he responded that it was his car. Now, at this stage of the situation, the inner-self instantly felt rage and also, just as instantly, re-watched the entire film we had just finished. I yelled back to him that it was “My Mother F*#!ing Car!” and he started to stumble away saying he was sorry and didn’t know what he was doing. Now, what would you have done? Do you think I splattered his skull across the pavement with my boots? Do you think I choked him out and left him in a dumpster? I let him go. I watched him walk away and even though I felt anger, what I would have felt for harming another person would have been worse. We live in a town where cheap drugs and violence are rapidly taking over and ironically, we just moved back here from one of the most dangerous cities in America. There are many that would have been more than happy to harm this person. Me? I felt nothing but sorrow for the direction of my species. Again: what would You have done? Amusingly enough, the powers that be have long dictated that those of us who watch Horror Films, or listen to Heavy Metal Music are desensitized, hate life and want to hurt everyone and every thing. My response is a simple one. I’ve never sent anyone to die, while I chill in my mansion. Who’s the real monster?
I will raise my mug o’ coffee in a toast to James DeMonaco, for writing and directing this excellent piece of art. Cheers to you, sir! I cannot wait to see the sequel!
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