The whole point of dystopian fiction is to show you a world that appears perfect on the surface, but then expose the dark, sinister underbelly. They always ask if the cost of such serenity is worth the price you have to pay. That’s the exact setup for the low-budget sci-fi/horror offering The Purge, which, following up on a strong trailer, has dropped two new television spots. Though these are very, very similar promos, each does a little something different.
The first, entitled “Crime,” sets up the basic conceit of The Purge. In the world of The Purge. there is almost no crime. Why? Because one night a year, anything goes: all crime is legal. When the populace is able to unleash their pent-up criminal leanings on one night, the rest of the year is relatively peaceful. Ethan Hawke and family batten down their fortress of a home, planning to ride out the madness. Only things don’t go smoothly, and they find themselves under siege. Can they hold out for the entire night?
The second spot—both come from The Purge YouTube page—known as “New America,” wants you to remember all the good the annual Purge does. According to this, it means your family is at risk, and a bunch of mask-wearing murderers will surround your home and try to kill you. Sounds like fun. You also get a little bit more time with the actual characters, with James Sandin (Hawke) and his wife Mary (Lena Heady).
You do have to ask one question. Why wear masks if you’re not afraid of being caught? Are you trying to conceal your identity for the other 364 days of the year, so your neighbors don’t know that you’re the one that got all murdery? This is what America has become; one night we’ll try to kill you, the next we’ll ask if we can borrow your hedge trimmer.
Looking at The Purge you can’t help but call think about things like Battle Royale, Surviving the Game, and The Most Dangerous Game. There’s a lot of human-hunting-human action going on. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the classic Star Trek episode “Return of the Archons.”
This marks the second recent team-up between Hawke and Blumhouse Pictures, who are responsible for the likes of Paranormal Activity and Dark Skies. They hope to recapture some of the success of last year’s Sinister.
Originally scheduled to open on May 31st, The Purge will now open a week later, on June 7th.