The First Purge, 5.5/10, follows the typical mask-wearing, blood-spewing manner that we have come to expect from this franchise. The First Purge is the prequel to the three previous instalments and gives us the original story behind the concept. As you continue to read this post, almost all the points I make lead to a negative opinion but when the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but feel like I had enjoyed myself.
The New Founding Fathers of America (the new political party in charge) give birth to the start of a ‘social experiment’ that people are labelling the purge. Dividing the nation, the idea behind the experiment is that it will reduce crime throughout the year by giving human-kind a lawless period of time where there are no repercussions for their actions. The location of the first experiment is hosted on Staten Island, New York – a district that is renowned for being a lower class area. So how are you going to entice people (other than the clinically insane) into taking part? Put the one thing on the table that people can’t refuse: money. $5000 is the starting price for merely remaining on the island for the night. However, scientist Dr. Updale (played by Marisa Tomei) believes human kind craves giving into the urge to purge and if you do so, well, you will receive a higher reward. When the government don’t get their desired outcome, they, in typical government fashion, tamper with the results by sending mercenaries in. It would seem the government has an alternative motive for getting Americans to buy into the experiment and making it a annual event: to reduce the ever expanding US population.As expected with this sort of horror, the acting isn’t at the highest caliber and the dialogue between characters is at time pretty cringe. However, their is an entertainment value throughout that is captivating and I will admit I jumped out of my seat a few times. Many of the scenes are predictable and a little far-fetched i.e every important character we meet narrowly misses any near death experience till the end and realistically, how is a lone gangster able to take on a group of disciplined mercenaries? Nevertheless, I don’t believe this film ever pretended to be a game changer to the genre.
As horror films go, this sub-genre is one that I rather enjoy. How far would humanity go if given free-will? My heart rate is much more likely to increase during a slasher movie than when watching a super-natural film. I guess it comes down to the fact that these events, as far-fetched they are, could actually occur. As disturbing as it may be, I have visions of Trump viewing this film and thinking, “Why haven’t we actually tried this?”. For a horror film, The First Purge has irritated me a little as I feel that a film like this shouldn’t try to be so racially and politically driven even going as far as a reference to a church shooting. When Childish Gambino makes the same reference (This is America) its thought provoking whereas here it just felt like an attempt at going viral of an insensitive subject.
Despite this and putting all the unfavourable points aside (which I know seem to be outweighing any reason to watch this film), I suggest viewing this film with an open mind. Perhaps, entering to simply be scared, made to jump and entertained I think you could still find this an enjoyable watch.