I’m a little ashamed. I feel like my escapism should be glaringly obvious, but just in case it wasn’t… there. I confess. The music, the books…the whole Goth thing…all the Walter Mitty-like (and I mean the short story–not the movie) daydreams…all of it is because life is too unbearable and I decided I can’t count on other people to buoy me up through it. So instead we have all the strategies and pretending and make-believe…
If I can pay attention to something else for a bit, then all the hurting and disappointment and dread can’t pull me down so far that I can’t recover…right?
I like to think that maybe it’s a better way than some of the other options, but still…
I am ashamed. Part of me sneers when I say it to myself. Escapist.
And now that I’ve got that said…….
Today, I went to see the latest installment in The Purge franchise. I may also inadvertently give away some plot points, so of you’re interested in seeing the movie, I wouldn’t read through the rest of this post.
The movies aren’t the best I’ve ever seen, but there are some aspects that I’m really intrigued by.
As far as the horror aspects of the films, they rely pretty heavily on the fear of being caught, which is instilled in us at an early age, whether we are raised in truly dangerous areas, or are instead just raised on games of tag or hide-and-seek. A lot of horror films do that though, so while it will usually get at least a weak audience reaction because it preys on a natural fear, it’s nothing interesting in itself.
The first one was the most heavily reliant on hide-and-seek, but the second and this newest one couldn’t do that, as they’re more plot-driven and certain things have to happen for the story, giving them less room for cheap scares.
They did something else though, that I really liked and kind of wish more horror films did…as the characters are moving from point A to point B and C in the plot (and through the city), they go through little horror vignettes that we never learn more about, but which are chilling to think back on. In this one it was stuff like a scene where they pass a guillotine set up in an alleyway, and the purgers in that little setup have a basket of heads they’ve collected…or another scene where a circle of men with swords and axes and long knives are in a ring, watching a pair battle to the death…or another one where some teenagers costumed as crosses between ballerinas and prostitutes announce that they’ve already purged their parents, and are now going to teach one of the main characters a lesson…
And those stories are almost more interesting than the main one, because you wonder how that all happened. How did the giant guillotine get there? Why did the girls purge their parents? How–on a night where it’s all one giant mêlée–did those men come to an agreement to fight it out in such an orderly way?
I was also curious about another aspect that this new film introduced–Purge tourism, where people from other countries would come to the USA to participate in The Purge. I thought that was weird because while their participation wouldn’t be problematic in a USA where they periodically suspended the law, I can’t imagine other countries willingly allowing their citizens to travel to such a place.
Because yes, if a lawless country killed a foreign citizen, there would be no harm done in that country because they authorized the lawlessness…but other countries would want justice for their murdered people…wouldn’t they? It’s weird. Maybe I just don’t understand (or maybe the writers didn’t flesh out that idea).
Also this, which has kind of bothered me since the first movie: why are robbery, looting, burning, torture, and murder the only crimes all the citizens seem to go in for? The whole premise is that “all crime, including murder” becomes legal for 12 hours…but why aren’t the hackers taking down the power grid? Why are there so few bombings depicted? Why is the USA still in existence at all with The Purge as a practice, when treason suddenly becomes legal? And in this one…they do depict white supremacists as some of the primary villains, but I have a feeling that Purge Night would be the time where all the hate groups go out and kill each other…
And the characters…like…they finally touched on “Purge insurance” in this film, but…wth? Insurance fraud becomes legal during the Purge, so if you burn down your own insured home or business, or kill your insured family member…well, you win, right?
What about Purge orphans? Who takes care of them, since the Purge is supposedly the chosen method of eliminating those who would need public assistance? And for that matter…Purge babies, right? Rape is legal during The Purge, after all…
It’s awful in every respect, but I’m really intrigued. All these unexplored possibilities are just sitting there. Not to mention other settings. They really only explore The Purge in a suburban or city setting…what about rural? What about on a college campus? Disney World? And since it happens in March, what if there’s snow?
It’s like the Cthulhu stories I enjoy so much. There are so many different directions they can go, all with their own horrors and potential for an engaging storyline that would show you one more awful piece of the picture…
If there was an anthology of stories relating to The Purge, I’d absolutely read it.
Not sure what exactly that says about me, but like at the beginning of my post, I’m a little ashamed that, of all the fictional universes I could find myself wishing there was more about, it’s the universe where The Purge exists.