By Chris Campo
Just as I thought 2016 was going to be a great year overall for horror... I mean, we got the Conjuring 2 already! And that was incredible. Don't Breathe and the Woods both look great, and I'll be perfectly honest with you, I don't think the new Ouiji movie looks completely shit. Well, I just saw the third Purge film, The Purge: Election Year. It just may be my least favorite film this year thus far, which is a damn shame, as I was actually looking forward to this film.
As you should know by now, in these movies, the purge is a 12 hour event once a year where all crime is legal, without any consequences. 18 years ago, presidential candidate Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) witnessed her family brutally murdered during the purge. She now vows to become president and terminate the purge once and for all. Because of this, the political figures who run the purge decide that the purge is the perfect night to take her out and save the annual tradition. The Purge: Anarchy protagonist Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) just happens to be her head secret service member, and it's his job to save her from the "Purgers" who are after her. Damn, I am sick of writing the word "purge" and we're two paragraphs in.
This film is idiotic, goofy, under-cooked, over-ambitious and borderline offensive murder porn. I don't like the first movie, it has decent acting but it wasted a genuinely intriguing premise. Fortunately, the second film's plot took more advantage of the premise and was more enjoyable, despite poor acting and no real sense of logic. This film doesn't even care or try to elevate from the last film. It truly feels like it exists purely to make money, because these films are cheap and a lot of people go to see them. Even after a hopeful ending, it manages to set up a fourth film in literally the final ten seconds of the film with a line of dialogue that feels as if it was added a week before the film was released.
I've seen some people appreciate the fact that this film mirrors some political issues currently taking place in the United States, but no. The political aspect of this film's plot was purely for marketing purposes, as all the political shit was one note and woefully unbelievable. If you want to scare me, convince me this can be real, don't make the political figures in this film cartoon characters. And in a time where gun violence is causing so much distress and horror in the real world, it was slightly uncomfortable watching a movie shamelessly glorify it. The script, overall, is the dumbest thing ever. It's full of coincidences and plot holes that aren't even the slightest shred of coherent. One minute the nazi, kkk, confederate, stock bad guys are trying to blow away their target with a 50 cal. and the next they are trying to take her alive so other people can kill her. I am positive they didn't even begin to try.
As I mentioned, if you want to scare me, convince me it's real. How can I put this.... THIS FILM IS NOT SCARY! This film's idea of horror is sudden jump scares and sudden graphic violence. The violence in this film is so tired. It's gory and gross and by the time the 100th blood splatter happens you'll wonder if this is a new Saw movie. Most of the violence is utterly pointless, too. See, the main character, Charlie, is so against the purge and violence, yet every single protagonist in this film blows holes in people left and right, and Charlie seems okay with it, up until the final action set piece, of course. There's a scene where a protagonist runs over like five girls than blows each of there faces off with point blank shot gun blasts... what a hero.
I was never bored while watching the film, it moves along at a decent pace, so I never was tempted to walk out, Any other positives I can come up with is that I was consistently laughing. This film has some of the most laughable dialogue I have ever witnessed, and it doesn't help when there's some absolutely awful performances. Another bright spot, which is a legitimate bright spot, is the two lead performances. Both Elizabeth Mitchell and Frank Grillo, Grillo in particular, seem like they are in another, far better film. This film simply doesn't deserve them.
The Purge: Election Year is by far the worst Purge film and may just be my least favorite movie of the year. It's stupid, poorly written, poorly acted (for the most part), glorifies violence and it's as un-scary as a horror film can be. I'm sure they're going to make a fourth film, and if this was any good maybe I would be excited, but no. The only purging that will happen with this franchise in the future is the purging of my attendance from this mess. And Frank Grillo, you're too talented for this, please stop making these.
1 1/2 Stars