The Purge is a 2013 American social science fiction action horror film written and directed by James DeMonaco. It stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder. It is the first installment in DeMonaco's Purge film series.
Despite mixed reviews, the film was commercially successful, grossing $89,328,627 during its run, far surpassing its $3 million budget. A sequel, titled The Purge: Anarchy, was released worldwide on July 18, 2014 to even greater success.
On March 21, 2022, hours before the annual Purge commences, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) returns to his home in an affluent Los Angeles suburb to wait out the night with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and their two children, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder). James is the top salesman for elaborate security systems designed specifically for Purge night, and the family is assured that the security system manufactured by James' company will keep them safe. Their neighbors attribute the size and fittings of the newly extended Sandins' house to his success in local promotion.
While the family awaits the 7pm sirens which will announce the start of the Purge, Zoey sees her older boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller), of whom James disapproves. James enables the security system, which includes a surveillance camera monitoring system and metal plating that seals the home. The Purge begins, and the family disperses in their home to go about their normal routine.
Zoey returns to her room to find Henry has sneaked back in before the security system was engaged, and he plans to confront her dad about their relationship. Meanwhile, Charlie watches the security monitors and sees a wounded man calling for help. He temporarily disables the system to allow the man, (Edwin Hodge), into the house. James races to re-engage the system and holds the man at gunpoint as Henry comes downstairs and pulls a gun on James. Henry fires at James and misses, but James fires back, mortally wounding Henry. During the chaos, the man disappears and hides. Henry makes his way back to Zoey's room before dying and she takes his gun. James takes Mary and Charlie back to the security control room.
As James scolds Charlie, they witness a group of young adults who are wielding guns and wearing masks approach the house. Their leader (Rhys Wakefield) unmasks himself and warns them that if they don't surrender the man within an hour, they will break into the house and kill everyone, including Charlie and Zoey. As the gang cuts the house's power, James is forced to admit that the security systems are only meant as a deterrent and would not actually protect them against a forceful invasion. He and Mary go off to find the man, intent on turning him over, while Charlie, using a remote-controlled toy car, finds him and lures him to a secret space to hide him from his parents.
Zoey finds Charlie's remote controlled toy car and speaks to the camera as she knows Charlie is watching; she tells him that she will hide in his secret hiding place. The man takes her hostage, but James and Mary subdue him. The family realizes that they are no better than the gang that is waiting outside, and they decide not to turn him over, but to fight back instead.
With their deadline having passed, the gang proceeds to use a truck to rip the metal plating from the front door and enter the house. James kills several of them before he himself is killed by the leader. Just as the gang is about to kill Mary, several of the family's neighbors, led by the Ferrins, arrive and kill most of the Purger gang. The leader attacks the family, but Zoey steps out from a hallway and shoots him to death. Just as the Sandins believe they are safe, however, the neighbors reveal they have come there to kill the Sandins because they are envious of their wealth.
The neighbors tie Mary and the children up and drag them into the hallway, but before they can kill them, Charlie notices his little toy robot camera car scoot across the floor. The man from before emerges and kills one of the neighbors. Mary says there has been enough killing and that they all wait out the remainder of the Purge in peace.
As dawn arrives (just before the purge is set to end), Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis) attempts to grab Mary's gun off the table, but Mary breaks her nose and slams her face on the table, strictly reminding her there won't be any more killing for the remainder of the time left. The sirens then sound, announcing the end of the Purge. Mary asks the neighbors to leave for their own homes. The man, Mary, Zoey and Charlie wait and watch as emergency services come to retrieve the dead. News reports state this Purge is the most successful Purge to date.
- Ethan Hawke as James Sandin
- Lena Headey as Mary Sandin
- Adelaide Kane as Zoe Sandin
- Max Burkholder as Charlie Sandin
- Edwin Hodge as The Stranger
- Tony Oller as Henry
- Arija Bareikis as Grace Ferrin
- Dana Bunch as Mr. Ferrin
- Chris Mulkey as Mr. Halverson
- Tisha French as Mrs. Halverson
- Tom Yi as Mr. Cali
- Rhys Wakefield as Polite Leader-1
- John Weselcouch as Interrupting Purger-2
- Alicia Vela-Bailey as Female Purger-3
- Aaron Kuban as Purger-4
- Boima Blake as Purger-5
- Nathan Clarkson as Purger-6
- Chester Lockhart as Purger-7
- Tyler Osterkamp as Purger-8
- RJ Wolfe as Purger-9
- Trazariah Shells as Purger-11
The Purge received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes records a rating of 38% based on 135 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.1/10, with the site's consensus stating "Half social allegory, half home-invasion thriller, The Purge attempts to use thriller formula to make an intelligent point—but ultimately only ends up sinking in numbing violence and tired cliches." The film holds a score of 41 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, signifying "mixed or average reviews".
On io9, Charlie Jane Anders described it as "a clunky and implausible political screed in movie form." Entertainment Weekly gave The Purge a B−, saying that it "clearly has a lot on its mind, but it never really manages to express it."
In its opening weekend, The Purge topped the box office with $16.8 million on opening day and $34.1 million through the entire weekend. The film has collected $64,473,115 domestically and $24,855,512 outside the United States, for a total of $89,328,627 worldwide, with a production budget of $3 million.
- Main article: The Purge: Anarchy
Due to the success of the first film, a sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, was developed by Universal and Blumhouse. It was released worldwide on July 18, 2014. Set in 2023, a year after the film. Edwin Hodge (Dwayne) was the only cast member to reprise a role.
On November 17, 2013 it was revealed that James DeMonaco is interested in directing a third installment in the franchise which would serve as a prequel and explain the origins of the purge, set in the early 2010s. On October 6, 2014 it was confirmed there would be a third Purge film, with DeMonaco returning to write and direct.
In July 2014 Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre had it's improv group of the same name produce the play, Seinfeld: The Purge, which parodied both "Seinfeld" and The Purge. The play, which was written by Justin Donaldson, focused on what each Seinfeld character would do during a purge; for example, George tries to kill a former friend from the Seinfeld episode "The Couch". Horror news website Bloody Disgusting gave the play "four skulls" and praised the show for its acting and storyline.
Social media posts by Baltimore High School students on April 27, 2015, during the 2015 Baltimore Riots referenced the film.
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