I've spoken to you several times of the renaissance that's been occurring in horror films: once a place only for slasher and cheap scares, the genre has evolved by returning to the creation of terror and uncertainty as the engines that fuel these new machines. Films like The Conjuring and Sinister are recent examples; but The Purge: Anarchy can now happily align itself to these well-built submissions, generating plenty of terror without necessarily needing to show it.
Writer/Director James DeMonaco has crafted two stories within Anarchy: one of revenge for Grillo's character, the other a stinging condemnation of The Purge itself. He makes the evening both a night of terror but also one of rebellion, as residents begin to fight against The Purge by rescuing those accidentally caught up in it. This is a smart move by DeMonaco, as yet another survival/slasher fest would have yielded diminishing returns. He also adds much more depth to the event itself, including the various ways certain people (ie, the rich) entertain themselves on such a violent evening. This alternative universe - one in which murder is not only allowed but celebrated - is fascinating, as citizens constantly announce their 'right to purge' as given by the New Founding Fathers. The media campaign has followed suit, complete with themed posters and press releases celebrating the release of the film, lending a heightened sense of realism to things.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the SJF favorite The Grey. He's a star on the rise, and I hope his performance here will convince others of the same.
The remaining characters have plenty of stories to tell as well, including John Beasley as Papa Rico, whose 'services' are hired by a wealthy family and whose death will allow Eva and Cali to escape their ghetto neighborhood. Liz and Shane are dealing with their own issues Pre-Purge and this takes up a lot of the first act without slowing things down. It's these lead-ups that set the stage for a more meaningful Anarchy, including the resistance movement headed by Michael K. Williams, whom we last saw in the rebooted Robocop. His message that purging is wrong and only benefits the rich is played out quite well here, setting up an inevitable third act as more and more people fight the movement rather than joining it. There's quite a reveal early on in the film that I won't spoil, but know that it blows away the audience's impression of what The Purge actually means - this twist is just another reason why this follow-up feels so much more mature.
The Purge: Anarchy is Rated R for strong disturbing violence, and for language and has a runtime of 103 minutes.
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