This Fourth of July weekend, audiences will be treated to the annual Purge. Two movies, a handful of regrettable decisions and a stockpile of scary masks later, no one has figured out how to survive the night (clearly none of these people read our survival guide). It’s all been a blur of blood, sweat and tears for our fellow purgers, and we’re still in need of more.
With Election Year, the franchise looks to rally the support of the Purge movement and the ratification of the 28th Amendment which first legalized it. As the trailers for the third entry remind us, it is simply un-American not to purge. Crime rates are at an all time low, unemployment is virtually nonexistent and our country couldn’t be happier. So like good Americans, we’ve gathered together our list of expectations for our favorite annual holiday.
Whether it’s good, clean hacking or an old fashioned shootout, there’s no greater stress reliever than cleansing the streets of their impurities. So without wait, we present to you the 17 Things We Want to See in The Purge: Election Year.
17 Lots of Patriotic Masks & Outfits
The day is finally upon us and you’re getting set for a big night out. Maybe you’re out on your own personal mission for revenge or just having some fun with your fellow purgers. Either way, you need to be fashionable. Go all out and celebrate your founding fathers with a get-up that says, “Sure, I like to kill people once a year for sport, but I do it for America!”
By this point in the Purge franchise, audiences have been treated with enough custom masks to take over Halloween every year. Whether it’s the prep school strangers in the first film or the biker gang from the second, each movie comes with new and disturbing designs. So it’s no wonder why this request has made it on our list. From the two trailers that have dropped, we know there will be purgers wearing the faces of presidents and the Statue of Liberty. Here’s to hoping they squeeze in just a few more surprises along the way to help with our wardrobe decisions next October 31st.
16 Not Too Many Flashbacks
Character development can make or break a movie. We’ll grant you that a little bit of build-up can go a long way. Still, at the end of the day, it’s the death count that’s putting people in theater seats. So while we know some screen time will be spent on the new character Senator Roan and the slaughter of her family, we don’t want it taking too much away from the actions of the city and the political landscape following the announcement of her election.
A nice balance should be struck between time shared with Roan’s story and the effects of her candidacy. With less than two hours to split between Election Year setting up its politically charged battleground and the actual fight that will ensue, too much flashing back and forth between the past and present will only distract viewers and take them out of the action. Instead, we hope to see one flashback which will explain the presidential hopeful’s support of the Anti-Purge movement, leaving plenty of time for her to prove herself by showing she’s more than capable of putting up a fight.
15 Less Time Spent on Another Home Invasion
When The Purge was marketed to viewers, it did well to sell its premise while hiding one vital bit of information: it was a home invasion movie. With everyone sold on the idea, Blumhouse realized they dropped the ball on the first flick and delivered what audiences wanted to see in Anarchy: what was happening outside during the biggest night of the year. It stands to reason that Election Year will be back at it again with more gory antics, but the teasers have us worried about how long it’s going to take before we reach the fun part.
We know some of the story will take place inside the White House as Sergeant Barnes aids Senator Roan out of the building and away from some heavily armed forces that look to silence her. If the first two movies are any indication, we could be looking at another White House Down rather than a Purge movie. In order to avoid such a case, the home invasion should be settled within minutes of the movie's opening, leaving Barnes and Roan exposed to the city’s environment, looking to survive the purgers and the skilled shooters in hot pursuit.
14 A Healthy Dose of Political Humor
Too much violence can leave a bad taste in your mouth if there’s nothing to water down all the blood. A fair amount of humor must be sprinkled on top of all that death. As is the case with any political satire, filmmakers risk sounding too preachy when they layer on jokes about current political sensitivities. We’re not saying we don’t appreciate a nice jab at Donald Trump every so often, but it’s not what we had in mind when we set out to watch a bunch of people openly dismembering each other.
The second Election Year trailer features a nod at Trump’s campaign slogan, acknowledging that many purgers participate in the annual event in order to “make America great again.” The film’s star Frank Grillo also admitted Trump influenced the movie’s title, which was changed when the studio realized the parallels between the final product and the GOP race. At this point, we wouldn’t be surprised to get a handful of jokes for humor's sake. So long as they’re kept at a minimum and the focus stays on Purge Night, we can cope. Too much of a message can feel heavy-handed. Let’s keep the franchise light and fun.
13 No Deus Ex Machina Resolutions
Here’s one crime any given horror franchise is guilty of committing. Writers find themselves stuck in a corner, wondering how to get their characters out of the messy web they’ve weaved. In The Purge, mere moments before the night’s end, the remaining members of the Sandin family found themselves confronted by their deranged neighbors. When it looked like they would die, a stranger the family saved from execution shows up and bails them out. Similarly in Anarchy, the group of protagonists are in the middle of a standoff with a death squad when the sirens blare, signaling the end of Purge Night.
It happens all the time. Tensions are raised, interests are peaked and audiences get their hopes up, only to have everything dashed away for the sake of time and a lack of creative ideas. It’s a cheap way of solving problems and it wouldn’t play out that way in the real world. Let’s see our characters resolve their issues with their enhanced combat skills and a weapon or two. Viewers would certainly thank the studio and it would rank the franchise above and beyond other horror series that have failed to pull it off.
12 Acknowledgment of Characters From the First Movie
It can be hard being a protagonist in a franchise where your survival isn’t guaranteed. In The Purge, the Sandins really got the short end of the stick. The loving father James (Ethan Hawke) thinks he has everything figured out. He sells security systems to keep purgers from entering the homes of people who can afford protection, but terrible decisions lead to some baddies injecting themselves into his family's lives. In an attempt to play the hero, James ends up with a knife in his chest, bleeding to death in his own living room.
We last see Mary Sandin and her children Zoey and Charlie waiting out the end of the Purge in their dining room. Since then, there’s been no mention of the family or what’s become of them. While it’s asking too much to expect Lena Headey to return for a cameo in Election Year, we could learn what happened secondhand. After what transpired, we could see the Sandins joining the Anti-Purge movement or fleeing the country to someplace remote. Even if it’s just in passing, any news on the whereabouts of the family could set up a possible connection in any planned sequels.
11 Less Characters That Need Saving
This pretty much sums up the first two movies in their entirety. The Sandins had high hopes of waiting out the holiday in the security of their homes and watching everything unfold on their monitors. In Anarchy, Sergeant Barnes acted as a personal security guard for a married couple and a mother-daughter duo. With Barnes now acting as Head of Security in Election Year, we can understand why a highly publicized politician may want him in her corner, but one man can’t do it all, and it’s going to take some serious ass-kicking maneuvers to survive 12 hours in the jungle of D.C.
Based solely on the fact that she’s running for president with an Anti-Purge campaign strategy, we know Senator Roan has some gall. It’s not everyday someone stands up to the crazies and points out the flaws in their way of thinking, but you’re going to want to know how to maim or incapacitated your opponent when they come strolling along looking to put you down. Plus, who really wants to be the person holding everyone back? That’s never a cool move, no matter who you are.
10 More Backstabbing Neighbors and Friends
Just when you thought someone was on your side, you turn around and the friend you thought you knew reveals they have a personal vendetta against you, or you know, they just turn out to be completely psychotic. Maybe the Founding Fathers put something in the water just before the Purge, or maybe people really are crazier than we think, but for whatever reason, everyone seems to go all Jekyll and Hyde once the night begins. That includes neighbors and friends who happen to seem friendly, until they prove otherwise.
There will be plenty of characters in Election Year that could prove to be conniving purgers looking to get in on all the fun before night's end. With so much riding on the Anti-Purge movement, we wouldn’t put it past killers to try getting close to Roan or Barnes in order to take them out and put an early end to the Senator's plans. Nothing is ever quite what it seems once the Purge begins. It’s best to keep an eye out, lest you end up another victim laid to rest at the hands of a lunatic.
9 A Battle of Classes
Money is the deciding factor when it comes to the war against the rich in a world where purging exists. The rebellion uprising hasn't exactly proven to be the secret weapon the other 99% were hoping for. Still, when the third entry in the Purge franchise finally hit theaters, we can expect an all-out survival of the fittest between the working class and the wealthy.
In the first two films, we get a look into how the rich spend their annual Purge night. The strangers from the first movie go after the Sandins in their home, implementing the buddy system and relying on their weapons and strength in numbers to make it through the holiday. In Anarchy, we witness an affluent group pay $100,000 to a family to kill a grandfather. For once, it would be a nice change to see the hunted become the hunter, taking the fight to the rich and turning the tables. It starts with the poor not senselessly killing each other. It would be cause for a full on battleground filling the movie with ceaseless retaliation. Now that’s something we’d pay to watch.
8 More Government-Sanctioned Death Squads
With the inclusion of Big Daddy and his group of paramilitary men mowing down the neighborhoods of Los Angeles, The Purge: Anarchy delivered a devastating blow for viewers. It was revealed that the whole damn thing was a big sham sanctioned by the New Founding Fathers to control the country's population and eliminate the lower working class. With the employ of death squads armed to the teeth with heavy artillery and a means of transport, the newfound government gained the upper hand during the night of catharsis, but the fight is far from over.
As Anarchy showcased, the number of Anti-Purge insurgents is on the rise. With an underground operation in full effect, we can expect a full resistance the likes of which were only teased before. With any luck, there will be one big bad shootout before Election Year’s end which will pit these mercenaries against the rebels looking to put an end to it all. We’re not looking for full-on action sequences which dominate the story, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be treated with at least one such scene for fun's sake. If it happens, viewers should fully expect chaos to follow.
7 A Nationwide Pandemic
According to the first two films, the Purge has driven down the crime rate nationwide by fulfilling the bloodlust of the country’s criminally insane. Since it was first enacted, the national holiday has taken America by storm. So it goes without saying that D.C. won’t be the only city going to work when Election Year rolls around this Fourth of July weekend.
We’ve seen hints at other large cities attacking and hacking their stress away, but little has been said about how the decrease in population or cost of damages has disrupted the economy. In a post-Purge society dictated by a totalitarian government, the rich will be able to withstand all damages inflicted on their lives. Meanwhile, the poor are left to live among the ruins watching the population of neighborhoods shrink, houses being left unoccupied and the cities decaying. The disparity between classes will grow, and every town will be controlled by those who can afford sound security systems. A single glimpse at the national decline would be an interesting look into just how disastrous an idea Purge Night would be if it were acted out long term.
6 At Least One “Anything Goes, Anything Can Happen” Death
What good is sacrifice if nobody cares? When The Purge first hit theaters, there was no way of predicting Ethan Hawke was going to be the one getting purged. It was a notable and justified death, but since then, no one worth mentioning has kicked the bucket. Sure, you could include Zach Gilford from Friday Night Lights biting the big one in Anarchy, but he wasn’t exactly a survivor, nor did he have the star power of either Hawke or Headey from the first film.
Frank Grillo (Captain America: Civil War) and Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) will be headlining Election Year, but they’re not the only ones with the chance to prove themselves. In order to restore some suspense to the series, it’s necessary to build character strengths and off someone of importance. We highly doubt Grillo will stay attached to a quasi-horror franchise after more than a few entries, so he could be departing soon enough. Or perhaps Mitchell will prove to be a one and done character. Either way, torches are meant to be passed in a franchise like this and characters aren’t meant to last. It would be a fitting end to any worthwhile character to go out with a bang.
5 A Return to the Thriller Genre
Somewhere along the move from a suburban household to the streets of Los Angeles, the thrills of the Purge lost their way. One would think that taking it to the streets in Anarchy would expose the movie’s characters to the goons of the world, putting them right in the middle of harm’s way. Instead, we lost the claustrophobia and jump scares of the first Purge and crossed over into action movie territory instead.
At this point, it’s hard to label this series as "horror." It checks many of the boxes for the genre: creepy masks, tons of death and the often overplayed tale of revenge. But when Frank Grillo stepped into the role of Sergeant Barnes, he went all Frank Castle and shot his way through every unsuspecting purger that crossed his path. He became a hero, rather than some meandering soul looking to make it through the night. It’s refreshing to have someone with some sense as the leading protagonist, but bringing back the scares of the first film wouldn’t hurt either. In the end, it doesn’t matter how qualified you are -- masked killers are always a threat.
4 A Battle Fought With Weapons, Not Words
Behind the curtain pulling all the strings are the handful of corrupt, influential individuals that make up the New Founding Fathers of America. Together they lowered the crime rates to an all time low and became the deciding leaders of the country. Until now, the NFFA has been nothing more than a myth for the franchise, but with Election Year delving deeper into the political agendas behind the Purge, it stands to reason that we’ll finally get a look at the people who transformed the country into the hosting ground for a free-for-all blood sport.
No nationwide dispute can be settled in a day, but that’s not stopping us from wanting to see some unruly politician-on-politician action. The issue at hand in Election Year will of course be to eliminate the Purge altogether. The NFAA is sure to be gunning for anyone who gets in its way, so that leaves plenty of room for Roan and her supporters to duke it out with the new faces of America. With the presidential debates around the corner, it could be nice to see politicians fighting with weapons instead of campaign strategies. It’s just what audiences need to see: D.C.’s heavy-hitters throwing punches the way they’ve always wanted.
3 Elaborate Traps/New Inventive Ways of Killing
For all its promising trailers, the Purge franchise hasn’t lived up to expectations when it comes to creative murders. Although the premise of a country willingly rampaging for 12 hours would mean releasing the truly insane out into the population, so far, audiences haven't been treated to any seriously deranged methods for offing characters. In the trailers for Election Year, we’re teased with images of people hanging from trees, nearly being killed by a swinging pendulum and what appears to be one victim being decapitated by a guillotine. If all these prove right, this will be a refreshing change in direction for the series.
Frank Grillo will return in the third entry as Police Sergeant Barnes to protect Senator Roan. We’ve already seen Barnes’s skill set in the first movie, single-handedly removing a number of purgers, so we’ll be looking for him to bring something to the table as well. So long as the devices are under Class 4 authorization, anything is fair game. But what would really keep purgers on their toes are booby traps with tripwires. There’s nothing that wakes you up more than nearly having your head cut off by a threat lying in wait.
2 The Clean-Up Afterwards
It happened in the first two movies and it will happen again. The alarm will sound, everyone will snap out of their murderous charade and things will return to normal. Are we meant to believe everyone returns to work the following day after a restless night of killing? One of these movies is seriously in need of an epilogue detailing what happens once everyone is asked to revert back to their normal lives. Better yet, how about showing what happens when one person decides to kill once Purge Night has ended. We know there will be consequences, but to what magnitude?
The franchise has the potential to stretch well beyond a single night’s worth of terrors, so why not set up a final film the likes of which would result in a full-scale rebellion? As the bodies of loved ones are seen being picked up from the gutter, we would assume at least one person will set out on a quest to make things right. It can’t all just be honky-dory all the time because of one annual holiday. Let’s see some retaliation for a change, the kind that comes from cleaning up the blood of family and friends.
1 Plot Holes Answered
It really doesn’t take much -- a few lines of dialogue here and a brief moment of reflection there -- to settle audience disputes and explain the logic behind a holiday for mass murder. Burning questions are still being left in the air. How does the first Purge Night take place so close to the present? What’s stopping people from seeking revenge once the Purge is over? Who enforces the Class 4 weapon restrictions on Purge Night if police forces aren’t allowed on the streets? All of these could be answered with just a few throwaway lines.
We’re not trying to nitpick here. By all accounts, Purge Night wouldn’t work in any real world scenario, so any explanations the filmmakers would have wouldn’t be fool-proof anyway. Still, we’re talking about a drastic change to the country which is made to resemble a near-futuristic, dystopian reflection on today’s society. If we’re meant to believe something like the Purge could ever happen, all these little argumentative points could at least be addressed. Otherwise, what’s stopping U.S. citizens from simply overthrowing the NFFA and rebelling against all government orders? Something had to have happened to keep everyone in line. We just want to know what that something was.
What do you want to see in the third Purge outing? Sound off in the comments.