The Purge series has become quite interesting as it has developed. It started with a fairly ludicrous idea, as the frame for some straightforward violence and redemption. In the second, and arguably best, instalment, it developed its own aesthetic. The idea of the Purge as a Holiday, with all the attendant outfits, language, customs and paraphernalia developed. We got a Purge look – macabre masks and make-up with a dose of creepy violence.
Rather than retread the same night of survival and personal discovery theme, Election Year takes a bold step to up the allegory and make it full on commentary on American gun fetishism, treatment of the poor, white privilege, and role of religion in politics. Elizabeth Mitchell’s Presidential hopeful is making the removal of The Purge the central theme in her campaign, and the heavily religious NFFA portray it as central to American identity. I mean, it’s no Animal Farm, but you’ll get the message here.
Such political allegory in horror used to be quite commonplace (all hail They Live!). But reading the comments on IMDB one is struck by how unaccustomed to it people are, and also how worthwhile it is. The complaints are all of “white stereotyping”. No, I’m serious, people think this is a thing to be upset about, eg:
“It would be okay if the director were able to make it more subtle, but since the movie is dumb proof, the persistent displays of “LOOK HOW WHITE PEOPLE ARE CORRUPT AND BAAAAD! LOOK HOW GOOOOOOD THESE POOR IMMIGRANTS AND DARK-SKINEED PEOPLE AAAAARE! LOOK HOW EVERYONE WHO COMMITS MURDER IS CRAZY – EXCEPT THE ONLY SANE, GOOD GUYS WHO KILL THEM.”
“White men are stereotyped to a new level. The hero is a white blonde who cares about “poor people” and uses terms like “over represented”. More poor people are heroes talk. A room full of rich people say that they need to stop the poor from destroying them- all white men, no one Jewish, no one black, no one middle eastern- just those evil white men”
“Too much of a social message in The Purge 3. I would have liked to see more of the actual purge/sci-fi itself. The film could be interpreted as a G O P vs Dem social messages.”
You get the idea. This is probably the same people who complained that casting women as Ghostbusters in the remake “ruined my childhood”. While Purge: Election Year is very far from a great film, (it is cliched, not that well acted and in the end doesn’t ask complicated questions), the absence of other popular films taking on a similar role in the current situation in the US makes it worthwhile.