It makes sense that James DeMonaco was the screenwriter and a co-producer on the remake of John Carpenter’s breakthrough Assault On Precinct 13. It is clear this time that the model he is chasing is the John Carpenter model, and there is a strong Escape From New York vibe to the best moments in The Purge: Election Year, a film that is far more action/thriller than overt horror.
It feels like DeMonaco has been remaking his own movie with each new chapter of The Purge, trying to refine it into the film he originally wanted to make. I think the first film is a mess, and it’s a case of a budget totally defining what something is instead of the idea being the primary consideration. They created this world with this major cultural event at the center of it, and they made an entire film set inside one family’s house. I understand why, but I don’t care. I don’t review film budgets. I don’t review how successfully something manages to create a return on an investment. I review films, and as a film, The Purge is a sort of overly-familiar home-invasion story, and not a particularly good one. The second film widened the world view just a bit, focusing on the story of Frank Grillo as “Sergeant,” a guy determined to use the annual opportunity of the Purge to right a wrong that was done to his family. And while I think The Purge: Anarchy is better than the first film, I still thought it got a lot wrong, leaning on some cheap set-ups and some obvious moves.