31 Days of Reviews: The Purge – Election Year (2016)

18 years after watching her family die in an annual purge, Senator Charlie Roan is running for president, and her platform is to put an end to the purge, once and for all. This year, she’ll find that she has both friends and enemies, and she has to figure out who she can trust.

I’ve been a pretty big fan of every Purge film so far, and The Purge: Election Year was no different. I think that the series does a good job of touching on social commentary while making a movie that audiences will enjoy. While the series does tend to head toward very violent ends, it never really gets to the point where I feel that it’s too gory. The most messed up part about The Purge films is really that people would even want to do the purging.

That’s one element of Election Year that I felt was really amplified. As the series has progressed, we’ve gone from following a single family to a broad look at a city, and with this third film, The Purge moves on to a national and even global scale. As we are inevitably introduced to a wider variety of people, we see more of the deranged behavior that would lead people to actually want to and look forward to killing people on purge night.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 7.08.37 PM

To be honest, the level of depravity in it all is so ridiculous that it walks a thin line between being terrifying and being hilarious. I think it walks this line well for the most part, but in this installment, there were some that didn’t really click well with me.

For example, one of the depraved in Election Year is a teenage girl. I’m thinking high school because of the uniform she wears when she’s introduced. The day before the annual purge, she tries to shoplift something and is thwarted in her efforts. She then threatens to get revenge on the shop owner by baring her teeth and saying mean things. I couldn’t take her seriously because the movie was trying to make her seem sexy and dangerous, while simultaneously acting like a teenager. I thought it was laughable. I couldn’t take her parts seriously at all. All for a candy bar… Ridiculous.

On top of that, there was some unnecessary comic relief. Like I appreciate the thought, but sometimes it was cringe worthy. Since this installment switches from a lot of different people, it doesn’t always flow smoothly. There are a lot of moments where the film uses a fade to black to get the point across. That slows the film down, and at points, it makes it seem cheap.

One of the most terrifying things I found in Election Year were some of the parallels to real life current events. Rich jerks with an agenda attempt to pass off their bigotry under the guise of religion. One of those jerks runs for office. It was eerie. One hopes that the real life situations won’t mirror the fictional when it comes to the lengths that Election Year‘s villains go.

On that same note, a crazy addition to The Purge universe in this film is the idea of “murder tourism”. The movie brings up the idea of a group of foreigners traveling to the United States, just to kill people because it’s “the American way”. This addition was incredibly interesting to me. I really enjoyed it.

Election Year was a fun ride in The Purge franchise. My initial thought when the credits rolled was that it would have been a fitting end if The Purge had been intended as a trilogy. The series has gradually expanded at a great pace, and with the ending of Election Year, it seemed to have come to a good place to stop.

Of course, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve seen murmurs of a fourth film in The Purge franchise due out sometime next year. I can’t help but be disappointed at that news, if only for a poetic sense. Another Purge film could be really good if done well. I’m just worried about it flying off the rails like many other franchises have in the past.

If you’re a fan of The Purge series thus far, you’ll enjoy Election Year. I’ve reached the point now where I can officially recommend the series as a whole for its social commentary and thrills. Of course, if movies about people going on killing sprees aren’t really your thing, The Purge is a series you should skip.

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