Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Marisa Tomei – Dr. May Updale / The Architect
Y’lan Noel – Dmitri
Lex Scott Davis – Nya
Joivan Wade – Isaiah
Mugga – Dolores
Lauren Velez – Luisa
Kristen Solis – Selina
Christian Robinson – Capital A
The first thing you will notice about The First Purge is the almost all-black cast (how very Black Panther). I state honestly that I am not racist, at all. But I am observant and this is simply a (strikingly obvious) fact about the movie. I was prepared from the opening scene for gangster ghetto behaviour and screams of, “son ‘a’ bitch”, “wid choo” (with you), “dat” (that), “day-um” (damn) “y’all” (you all / all of you), and other culturally-adapted English words. Alongside a shitload of bling-clad muscly guys cocking their head sideways whilst pointing a gun in the exact same position, and stabbing the air with the weapon every time they roared a word to other characters. This was just a guess of course, The First Purge could have turned out completely different to what I anticipated.
..absolute fucking gangster’s paradise.
The beginning of the movie lays down the foundation for the previous instalments (future purges) by way of introduction. It uses short, sharp scenes to portray interviews between government officials and members of the public whose island of residence has been chosen as the testing ground for the deadly experiement. And from here stems the idea of ‘purging’; viewers get to see how exactly the phrase came about (a very unhinged drug addict who surprisingly uses the word ‘purge’ in his sloppy vocabulary). How the government set up the event and prepare willing members of the public for it. How these members of the public document their participation by way of live-camera contact lenses. And of course, the observation of how the 12-hour carnage kicks off – and concludes. The producers waste no time in portraying the birth of the annual event, getting the story of origin across immediately and allowing the action to do the rest. Some of the movie contains tedious dialogue between characters (mainly the pissed off ex-girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend who she loved a few days ago), but it is quickly saved by the tense atmosphere created by the build-up to commencement. After all, that is what the movie is all about.
The First Purge has a different vibe about it compared with its prequels; it genuinely feels as though this is the beginning of it all and should probably have come first in order of cinematic release. I mean, why not kick off a franchise of horror films – by kicking it off? To have The Purge enter the movie industry with a story which tells its viewers that they are in the middle of an annual event that has been taking place for years.. this doesn’t make a bad bit of film. Viewers are captured immediately. However, those viewers may wonder how it all began and want to find out. That is where this fourth instalment comes in and answers any questions. The movie is worth a watch however tame it is compared to previous ones. That’s right – tame..
What I found disappointing about this movie is how the experiment kicked off. As shown in the trailer, a number of people throw a street party to mark the event that has been sanctioned by the government. You see practically an entire neighbourhood revelling between the houses and cars, having fun. And that’s it. Nothing naughty happening at all. Which is a bit shit, considering the nature of the movie. In fact, the most dangerous thing to happen during this scene is one female wearing a pair of hotpants so high she’s probably at risk of catching vaginal flu. Until of course a lead character makes his entrance and finally brings this highly uneventful scene to a murderous climax with a bit of ‘stabby-stabby’.
This has to be one of The First Purge’s most irrelevant scenes; the titular experiment has been announced and yet this neighbourhood celebrate as though the government just allowed them to disturb the peace late at night by playing music at maximum volume. A total let-down which lowered the movie’s dynamic. It needed saving ASAP. Thankfully, there were two people who swooped in with shopping trolleys (yes – shopping trolleys) and saved the day..
There’s nothing quite like seeing older members of the public partake in some sinister action, especially when it happens during a film like this. As with actress Judith McConnell who plays a despicable Purge auctioneer in The Purge: Anarchy (2014), two older grandmother-type women come out to play in The First Purge. That’s right – while spunky, young twenty-something’s are clubbing it up at a street party these two hit the streets with cruel intentions. The younger-older generation divide is clearly visible and shown immediately when Isaiah (Wade) exits his apartment:
A fit young man who is out to purge but spends his first few minutes looking up at the sky and around his building like a nervous puppy. Pitiful.
Two older women (either one possibly someone’s grandmother) wheeling shopping trolleys down the middle of the street, throwing their heads back and screaming with evil laughter. Brilliant. The oldies definitely win here, and these two pantomime-style twisted characters deliver much needed relief – if only very brief – during an otherwise ganster mash-up of a movie.
Scenes involving the group of lead characters just become a load of tedious crap, where their biggest weapons are their attitudes. Overall this movie is nowhere near as eventful as its previous ones, but manages to save itself very narrowly with one or two slick scenes such as the stairwell carnage and focus on bent government officials.
You may as well watch The First Purge if you’ve seen all the others. It makes sense, right? But for the love of god don’t expect a fright fest because you’ll be disappointed.