The Purge: Anarchy takes place in the year 2023 during the night of the United States' annual "Purge"; a night where all crime is legal. The Purge has led to significantly lower crime rates and unemployment and is a day where people around the country can "cleanse" themselves by going out around town on killing sprees with their buddies. The film follows three different sets of characters whose stories all converge as they find themselves stuck in the streets of New York City on the night of the Purge. Only one of the characters, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) is on the streets by choice. Barnes, the de-facto tough guy leader of the group, protects the other characters from different gangs who are "Purging" in the streets with his assault rifles, bullet-proof sports car and grizzly 5 o'clock shadow.
While I find the idea of the government allowing there to be a night where all crime is legal quite ridiculous, it does make for a cool horror movie setting. The streets of New York are deserted with the exception of gangs riding around in vans and motorcycles. There are also electronic billboards with government updates on how much time is remaining in the purge and messages wishing everyone indoors a safe night. They also wish everyone who is purging to have a nice cleanse.
The movie is labeled a "horror-thriller", and unfortunately contains all the components of an incredibly corny horror film. It is chock-full of inconvenient car breakdowns and people tripping over their own feet while running away from the bad guy. This film also relies way too heavily on "gotchya!" moments where the bad guy discovers someone hiding, breaking a spell of silence. One of the big shootout scenes towards the end of the film had so many "gotchya" moments that it brought me back to the laser-tag birthday parties my friends in elementary school would have, where you would just wait behind a wall and jump out to scare your friend before shooting him with your thirty pound laser rifle.
Some of the motorcycle riding gang members wore creepy clown masks that were actually pretty scary. Maybe because they reminded of Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider.
1 1/2 Stars
Adam Kester for Shelli Sonstein