Last year’s The Purge birthed yet another profitable low-cost horror/thriller franchise from Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Insidious), though it also wound up disappointing many a moviegoer, who thought that the film’s dystopian concept – a world where, once a year, all crime (including murder) is legal for a night – was wasted on a stock home invasion narrative. With the first installment under his belt, however, writer/director James DeMonaco thought bigger for the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy.
Anarchy, for those just tuning in, expands the playing (read: killing) field to an entire city, wherein a handful of decent people – “decent” here meaning “not interested in murdering anyone just because it’s legal” – end up pooling together, in a group effort to stay alive while psychopaths in freaky masks and/or creepy face paint, wreak havoc in the streets. Leading the non-crazies is one fellow played by Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), who begins the night looking to deal out some vigilante justice, but winds up playing the hero instead.
Bad idea, as the the newly-releaed extended TV spot for Purge: Anarchy makes clear – Purge night is the one time where everyone’s not supposed to do the right thing. Sooner than later, Grillo and his comrades find themselves climbing through one nasty situation after another, which includes a pit stop at an auction where wealthy, deranged, guests bid on people - in order to have them participate in what appears to be some Hostel-esque sick form of entertainment.
Purge: Anarchy has more than a couple of the qualities that are typically associated with a direct-to-video low-grade horror sequel (see: no-name supporting cast, etc.); at the same time, though, it appears to boast more confident direction and stylistic flourishes by DeMonaco – now that he’s gained a bit more experience, working in the field. That said, it also looks to be heavier on the horrific violence than full-fledged scares – and of late, it seems as though horror fans’ preferences have shifted back to more atmospheric, creepy fare (see: Sinister, The Conjuring, etc.).
So, the question is – is the Purge brand alone strong enough to draw a sizable crowd? The film should make it out of the red cost-wise, since its budget presumably isn’t that much larger (if at all) than the original’s $3 million price tag; whether it will do overall well enough to justify The Purge 3 being made, is another matter.
The Purge: Anarchy opens in U.S. theaters on July 18th, 2014.