I always had a feeling that The Purge: Election Year would be the most difficult film I would have to critique and I was right. I won’t sugarcoat the fact the Purge franchise are my guilty pleasure films; mainly due to the most outstanding premise I have seen in a long time with limitless potential. However to keep the integrity and the value of film criticism it is my decision to nullify any guilty pleasure factor from my assessment of the third film in this franchise. Note this however, if I were to review this film with guilty pleasure in mind, it would be an above average film with a final result of 6/10.
Now that we have all the bias out of the way let me be straight forward, this film is hugely disappointing and it hurts me to say that because by the conclusion of The Purge: Anarchy, I was thinking to myself that the director James DeMonaco had finally found the correct tone and angle for his crime-filled universe after the disappointment of the first film which over-glamorised the people purging, now DeMonaco has fallen into the trap that he had paved over with The Purge: Anarchy.
Election Year presents yet again characters who are way to over expressive such as the young girl (who I will refer to as The Candy Girl) whose main goal in this film is to take back a candy bar and she employs the help of her very provocatively dressed friends, I couldn’t help thinking that this is what it would be like if you booked a hen night on the same day as the purge. Its characters like The Candy Girl that are a massive weight dragging down the films entertainment value. Staying with the characters of Election Year, Frank Grillo returns as Leo Barnes whose performance is barely improved upon, the reason for this is unlike The Purge: Anarchy in which he was out for revenge, his character has no personal goals, he is out to do his job and protect Senator Charlie Roan portrayed by Elizabeth Mitchell who commits an atrocity that half of the cast do, which is the terrible trap of overacting and in doing so much of the dialogue is spoken in a very unrealistic and unconvincing way which during her scenes with Frank Grillo seem distracting.
The only character that really impressed me in this film was Joe played by Mykelti Williamson who gives a great performance that topples anyone else in the film because like Leo Barnes he also has to protect something and when he and Leo come together the film raises the stakes as the two objects of importance are brought together which improves the narrative’s value.
The Purge is built upon an underlying lore that surrounds the film and the building of the world that James DeMonaco has created. The addition of what the film calls “Murder Tourists” wraps up the broader question on the rest of the world’s involvement in this world, which from a fans perspective is an interesting addition to the development of the 12-hour bloodbath. Lore is very prominent in modern horror entertainment, but its near impossible to call Election Year a horror because while there are parts of the film that make you jump (although they usually follow some sort of jump scare) it certainly feels more like an action thriller mixed with the aesthetic look of a modern horror.
I applaud the writers for keeping the characters’ actions politically motivated throughout the film, you will be able to see a political unbalance from the two assassination attempts from both sides of the demographic. However, they receive no applause at all for a tell rather than show screenplay with cheesy dialogue, and because the characters overact to the point that it almost becomes theatrical.
For a while during development, it was accepted that Election Year would be the last of The Purge films, which by the conclusion is clearly false as it easily sets up potential for another sequel. Speaking as someone who has a care for the franchise I hope that the franchise takes a short break to reflect upon what they did right and wrong because to me, The Purge: Election Year is the start of a downhill slope that will only become more evident if Blumhouse Productions don’t turn this into a film that has to be churned out every year. We’ve seen this happen to Saw and Paranormal Activity and if James DeMonaco doesn’t reflect on his artistic and disturbing vision it will happen to The Purge as well.
To summarise, The Purge: Election Year’s myriad of problems all seem to stem from terrible dialogue and performance from the side characters. It forced me as a fan of the franchise to reconsider my loyalty to DeMonaco’s vision and while I still feel that we still have a lot more to see from this franchise, my advice to the producers and DeMonaco is to forge a path very carefully because one more disappointment and they’ll end up losing a huge chunk of the films fan base who will want to purge this franchise to its conclusion.
Final Result: 4/10 – Below Average
Have you seen The Purge: Election Year? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments.
Note: I will be taking a week holiday so there will be no film review on the 3rd September.
Next Time: Kubo and the Two Strings