America's third political party, the New Founding Fathers of America, comes to power and conducts an experiment: no laws for 12 hours on Staten Island. No one has to stay on the island, but $5,000 is given to anyone who does.
Directed by: Gerard McMurray
. Starring: Y'lan Noel
, Lex Scott Davis
, Joivan Wade
, Patch Darragh
, Marisa Tomei
, Luna Lauren Velez
, Kristen Solis
, Rotimi Paul
, Mo McRae
, Jermel Howard
, Christian Robinson
. Music by: Kevin Lax
I'm not a big horror fan, but I always appreciate when a great horror flick comes along. When The Purge was released back in 2013, I was very underwhelmed by it, as the premise itself intrigued me enough to warrant a viewing. The biggest issue I had with that film is that it was a country-wide event that was self-contained in one house. When the second film came along I was inclined to give it a chance because it did what I hoped the first film was going to. Now, this franchise has gone n for far too long and we have arrived at a prequel in The First Purge. The idea of going back to the very first purge has potential, but this film lives up to nothing of the sort. Anything good to speak of this franchise has now been killed in my eyes. This is easily the worst film in the franchise and one of the worst films I've seen in 2018, period.
Taking place years before the events of the original film, an experimental purge is held on Staton Island in New York. Dealing with gangs, families, and people who just have the urge to murder, this film focusses on many different people, making it a jumbled mess of a movie. The plot of this film is no different than any of the previous installments, aside from not quite making a valid argument as to why these events even take place each year, which is what I felt this film's only job was in the first place. Failing to provide insight as to why this event continues on is just the icing on the cake of what makes this film so dreadfully bad though.
Although I'm not a huge fan of the franchise, each consecutive film was at least able to provide characters that had a backstory for you to follow and while this film attempts to, it comes off as lazy writing, stereotyping people and giving them nothing but clichéd backstories all across the board. If you literally go to watch these films based on the fact that people murder each other and you don't mind having zero depth to the characters involved, then this film may slightly please you, but at least in my opinion, your bar for entertainment might have to be pretty low for this one to impress you.
On top of these elements, this is a very easy film to nitpick. The First Purge is riddled with jump scares that come out of nowhere (which I can't stand), some of the blandest dialogue I've heard all year, and quite frankly some very lazy editing techniques. This film has a relatively low budget, just like its predecessors, but it's no excuse when the editing and visual effects would be noticeable in a movie that cost a studio ten bucks.
As I mentioned, this movie can be nitpicked until the end of time, but there is one particular scene that ruined any hope I had for this film. Surprisingly, this scene involves a character played by Marisa Tomei. I love her as an actress, but I was shocked to see her appear in this film. Her character is only present to spew expositional dialogue that will even seem dumb to young kids. There is a sequence in this film that is shown through a video feed to her character and after the audience witnesses that they're all wearing masks, she literally exclaims that they're wearing masks, so that the viewers will understand those are the people who are choosing to purge. This film has quite a few moments like this and it just had me shaking my head in disappointment.
The First Purge hardly has a single redeeming quality, aside from maybe a visual choice of giving glowing contact lenses to the people who choose to purge. That element was cool visually, but that had no effect on the overall movie. When your film fails to have your audience care about who lives and who dies, there's something seriously wrong. I truly felt that one of the most unlikeable characters was one that you're meant to be rooting for, which gave me a very uncomfortable viewing experience. In the end, this movie fails on more levels than its predecessors, so even if you're a slight fan of the franchise, I still don't know if this one warrants a recommendation.
Review by kjproulx from the Internet Movie Database.