The Purge was one of the bigger surprises of the year for this reviewer. No, it was not that scary (to me, my companions and the others in the theater were screaming frequently), but instead it was a hilarious trip through a night of carnage.
The plot is essentially what you see in the trailer. One night a year, everyone can commit any crime they want free of consequence. When the Sandin family takes in a homeless man who is about to be killed by a mob of masked intruders outside, they must decide whether or not they will honor The Purge, or protect this man and themselves from the mob.
This is a tried and true formula, albeit with some interesting ideas behind it that could have been used to greater effect outside of a home invasion film. However, where this film separates itself is its attitude. I genuinely do not believe it was intended to be a completely serious film. Rhys Wakefield plays the "Polite Leader" of the group, and his performance is amazing. He scared my companions, yes, but for me I was left wondering how much scenery he had left to chew. It was clear he enjoyed performing in this film, and it comes across clearly in his gloriously hammy performance.
All of the performances are solid, the film making is solid, but the writing is lackluster. Some characters, the daughter in particular, are so irritating that the audience hopes for her to get tickled to death (which, hilariously, nearly happens in the actual film, by the way). In addition, as someone who has viewed countless horror movies, it is easy to detect half of the surprises in the movie.
Still though, the movie is highly entertaining, even if it is in ways they may not have intended it to be. As previously mentioned, the film has genuinely original ideas for its premise that would lend themselves better to a film that is not about home invasion. It raises questions about our society that it never answers, but if put into a proper political thriller, it could be a true gem. Go check out The Purge, but do it with friends who are either jumpy, or love a good laugh. Either way, you will likely be entertained.