After the rise of a third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, an experiment is conducted, no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one must stay during the experiment yet there is $5,000 for anyone who does.
Starring: Y’lan Noel, Scott Davis, and Joivan Wade
Directed by: Gerard McMurray
Written by: James DeMonaco
Between “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy,” it always seemed like the movies should have been switched. Anarchy gives audiences more details about the Purge, which would have been nice to know in the original movie. “The Purge” has always seemed more like just another home invasion movie because audiences didn’t truly grasp what the Purge was. Now “The First Purge” changes that thinking, and gives this franchise a proper starting place, even though audiences have to watch them out of order.
So how does the Purge begin? The government is changing, and times are rough in the United States. This allows a new party to come in and run an experiment, which they hope will help them gain the power they’re looking for in this country. Basically they go to a poor area in Staten Island and tell people they will get $5,000 to stay there during the Purge, and even more if they participate. Of course this is met with protest, led by Nya (Lex Scott Davis). She wants what’s best for her community, including her brother, Isaiah (Joivan Wade). Isaiah is tired of living poor and is looking for the easy way out, but soon learns it isn’t so easy. Unknown to Nya, he just started working for the neighborhood drug dealer, Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), who has history with Nya.
The story is set up well, but it’s all about what happens on Purge night! To start, not much happens. Actually it’s all fun and games until one local crazy person is willing to go to the extreme of killing his fellow neighbors, while a few others are in for a couple of scares. Since it’s the first Purge, it’s fair to expect nothing as exciting as in other movies. However, it's still full of some wild masks, which will hopefully be available this Halloween!
For the audience that follows this franchise, they’ve seen involvement in the Purge from outside sources, and they get to see where that starts. It helps fill in some blanks as to where these groups come from in later movies, as well as showing why the Purge was a success. Eventually all hell breaks out, and Dmitri and his crew decided to take a stand against these outsiders. There are some good gun fights between the sides before Dmitri has to come to Nya and Isaiah’s rescue. While exciting to watch, it unfortunately moves the movie from being a horror movie to an action film.
If you’re a fan of this franchise, “The First Purge” is definitely a must see. At a minimum, it explains some things that happen in previous movies, and gives the franchise a much better starting place. The story sets up well, including how these character’s lives are intertwined. It might not be a surprise that nothing exciting and new happens on Purge night like in previous movies. This one is actually short on horror, and becomes an action movie in its final sequence. The movie does deserve some credit for not being afraid of some of the social commentary it makes. With that, I give it 2.5 pools of blood, and look forward to what the upcoming T.V. series has to offer.