America. Land of the free, home of the brave, good country for crime. At least, that’s the angle that this summer’s hotly anticipated horror sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, is going for in its latest trailer. The next film from creator James DeMonaco takes us still further down the crime-ridden rabbit hole he first presented to us with last year’s The Purge, a cinematic universe that imagines that all crime (even murder, as some kind of super-happy announcer-lady declares in a tone of voice that’s definitely more chipper than it should be) is legal for a single, terrifying twelve-hour period every year. Time to move to Canada. Bye, guys!
The Purge itself appears to be a wholly American creation, one launched to help citizens let off steam in the most demented of manners. It’s presented to its citizens as a good thing (along with its apparently unwritten rule to never, ever help anyone else out ever ever ever, because nothing says “USA” like not given a crap about your neighbor), but it’s pretty obviously a totally insane and evil thing, and it sure makes fake future America seem like the kind of place that’s not even worth the scant visit. Still, you know what’s really American? A hero — one like Frank Grillo, whose starring role in the film should pretty cleanly seal up his bid for cinema’s next “tough guy with a heart of gold” slot. Check out the latest trailer for The Purge: Anarchy, and be happy this premise isn’t true (well, yet):
The first film in the newly-minted franchise (that would be just The Purge, for those of you in the cheap seats) never really dug into the bold universe DeMonaco created for his both his characters and his audience. That film was far more concerned with playing around with other, existing home invasion tropes as part of its narrative, along with vaguely attempting to touch upon the moral questions that the film (and the concept at its heart) raised.
The problem is, DeMonaco’s basic idea is compelling for two reasons — it’s both very scary and very thought-provoking — but the first Purge didn’t go whole hog on either the scary stuff or the brainy stuff in a satisfying way. Sure, it’s interesting that it takes place in a world where all crime is legal (yes, for just twelve hours, but come on, that’s bold), but it’s also interesting that it imagines that this same world has also done away with the stigma of committing those crimes. Some people might not commit crimes because they’re illegal, but plenty of people also don’t commit crimes because they’re worried about what other people will think of them. In Purge land, neither issue matters.
Basically, Purge Day sounds horrible, but the day after Purge Day sounds even worse. Think about that water cooler chat. Awkward talk around your weirdo co-workers? It doesn’t get more American than that.
Will this new Purge get any closer to exploring those twin attractions? Eh, probably not, but at least we finally get to go outside.
The Purge: Anarchy opens on July 18th.