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Title: The Purge: Election Year

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:78

I’m actually surprised that the little $3 million film that was pretty much a home invasion thriller was able to spawn two sequels. Not to mention the fact that they both were at least as successful as the movies that came before. Usually the first movie tends to be the best of the bunch, and then the rest fall off the deep end with DTV after DTV sequel. Each movie in the series adds a little bit to the production budget (first one was $3 million, second was $9 million, this one was $10 million), but each successive film has made more and more money, and the franchise shows no signs of stopping (although with the ending of “Election Year” they could finish it off pretty easily). The premise of “The Purge” was that America had been very near a complete and total economic collapse, but the government was redone by the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) and reborn, allowing for one night a year where the populace could vent their violent tendencies without reprisal. This night was known as the purge. “The Purge: Anarchy” expanded the concept and setting from an enclosed home to a whole city, with groups of people trying to survive the night. They even added in a slight social undertone to the film, which was a nice touch. “The Purge: Election Year” goes full political though, and makes the entire premise of the film about the politics and future of the night of terror in America. It doesn’t always work, but the core premise of hyper violence and lots of bloodletting more than make up for some of the movie’s flaws.

It’s that time of year again. That time of year when everyone is battening down the hatches and getting ready to weather the yearly purge once more. This year is a bit different though. Its election year and the presidential candidates are slightly split over the concept of letting Americans murder each other for no reason. Crazed minister and candidate Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor) is rabidly FOR the continuation of the annual event, but his opponent, one Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is making the argument that the purge is nothing but a tool used by the elite to cull the weak and lower class citizens. Its full intent meant as population control so that less money is spent on welfare and other helpful federal expenditures, making sure that there is more to go around for the rest of us. Obvious that IS the intent, but the opposition is not about to let the sheeple know that particular little detail.

Realizing that Senator Roan is getting WAY too close to winning the race, the New Founding Fathers of America decide to lift the ban keeping purge entrants from attacking political officials and uses that little bit of a change to bring in a hit squad on the optimistic candidate. While that may have worked, Senator Roan’s chief of security is none other than Ex Sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), who was the main survivor of “The Purge: Anarchy”. Taking to the streets Leo and the Senator have to make their way through the night without getting killed by the government sanctioned hit squad, as well as dodging the crazed lunatics who are actually participating in the event already.

The movies in the series have slowly changed over the course of the three film trilogy, and not always for the better. The first movie was very claustrophobic and restrained, but had a great premise. The sequel opened that up a bit and added in some social underpinnings about the strong preying on the weak. “Election Year” adds a whole new level of social justice by peeling back the layers behind the curtain to see exactly what the perpetrators of the event were actually thinking. It’s a nice touch and keeps the movie from being an orgy of blood and violence, but also comes across as heavy handed at the same time. We’re told time and time again how this is the 1% making sure that they could cull the weak and keep the populace under their thumb, but very little is done to make it seem subtle, or relatable to the average viewer. The heavy satire of our “future” is not meant to be taken literally, and that mostly comes across, but sometimes I had to sit back and say “ok, that was just a bit too much to swallow”.

However, I still had a blast with the film and love Frank Grillo as Leo Barnes. He played a tough guy in “Anarchy” quite well, and keeping him in this one does a good job at trying the two movies together. The addition of Mykelti Williamson (he was most notable for playing in “Justified” as the southern fried Mr. Limehouse) as Joe Dixon was a perk too, and added a nice layer of humor to the otherwise bleak and dark thriller. While there is no real standout performances, the movie works as a horrific satire of our political system, as well as appealing to the gore hounds in the house. Although I will readily admit that this entry in the series is the least violent. What is shown on screen is more disturbing rather than gruesome, and the action is a little less this time around to make room for some of the politicizing (which is the only real negative to the movie). I was hoping for something about “Green Room” level for intensity, but the movie’s R rating seems to be slipping instead of going up, as most sequels do.


Rated R for disturbing bloody violence and strong language

Video :4stars:
“The Purge: Election Year”, much like its predecessors, is a DARK film, being that the movie takes place during a single night of the yar. Shadow detail is exceptional, with only the most minute levels of black crush creeping in every once in a while. There’s a little bit of mosquito noise in a few scenes, but the amount is fairly minimal, and only REALLY is noticeable during the religious “purge mass”. Colors are decently saturated, but still rather muted due to the dark filming environment. During the few daylight sequences, the contrast was a little boosted and given a kind of overly white and yellow tinge to the picture, seemingly stylistic at heart. Fine detail is excellent, but the movie seems to be the softest of the three films, with a lightly hazy look over the whole thing. There are standouts (like when the crazy high school girls come back to wreck the deli), but overall it’s a good looking film that just suffers from low level with digital photography and the symptoms that brings about.

Audio :4.5stars:
Well, the aggressive and forceful audio that “The Purge” series is known for doesn’t disappoint in the least. Starting out fairly mild, it kicks into high gear once the actual purge itself commences. Heavy rock music combined with the screaming and roaring of gunfire permeate the sound stage, giving plenty of opportunity for heavy duty LFE to rock the track from beginning to end. Gunshots sound natural, but still rather forceful, and the aggressive score infuses a sense of excitement and seething to the experience. The surrounds work seamlessly with the front sound department, adding in quite a few ambient noises with the streets overflowing with rage and violence. There are several moments where the film settles down with dialog, but even those bits tend to be well nuanced (such as the church mass where the echoing halls shift the vocals around the listener) and lively.

Extras :2stars:

• Deleted Scenes
• Inside The Purge - Featurette
• Character Spotlight: Leo - Featurette

Overall: :4stars:

“The Purge: Election Film” tries to be more ambitious than the films before it, and in many ways it succeeds. But in several ways the overly obvious political message that it employs tends to be about as blunt and subtle as the violence portrayed in the movie itself. I still rather enjoyed the movie and felt that it was no better or worse than “The Purge: Anarchy”, and makes for a bloody good bit of entertainment if you liked the previous movies. As always, this is a hyper violent thriller, and while most people are more than aware of that I always like to make that known for the people who haven’t seen the prequels. Audio and video are excellent, though sadly the extras are just as anemic as the previous two entries. Still worth a fun watch for the horror/thriller crowd.

Additional Information:

Starring: Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson, Elizabeth Mitchell
Directed by: James DeMonaco
Written by: James DeMonaco
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 109 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 27th 2016

Buy The Purge: Election Year On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Fun for the Horror/Thriller Crowd

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