“The Purge: Election Year” Wishes It Could Be As Disturbing As This Election Cycle

Michele K. Short / Universal Pictures

Two candidates are battling for the presidency and the soul of the country in The Purge: Election Year, the latest and most ambitious (though not the best) installment of writer-director James DeMonaco’s America-gone-mad series. Like The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy, this film is set in a near-future United States in which, one night a year, murder is not only allowed but government-endorsed. But, like in the U.S. today, the nation in the D.C.-set Election Year is facing a potentially seismic vote. Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is a senator and Purge survivor running for the highest office in the nation on an anti-Purge platform, boldly calling out how the event culls the poor and vulnerable. She poses a real challenge to the incumbent New Founding Fathers of America, the party that started the Purge years before, and the NFFA’s chosen representative, minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor), a forgettable, silver-haired man who blends so seamlessly into the party’s cadaverous boardroom that his suit serves as a sort of camouflage.

In other words, Charlie may be lightly designated as a Hillary Clinton equivalent, but her opponent is not the, er, unique personality that is Donald Trump — Edwidge (Edwidge!) is a blur meant as a stand-in for a more standard conservative stereotype. DeMonaco clearly intended The Purge: Election Year to be his franchise’s most timely entry, one that would combine its annual horror show with scathing political commentary, but having written the film a year or two ago, he didn’t guess what (or who) was coming in the 2016 election. Most characters in Election Year are raging against a fictional political party that hides its bloodstained anti-poor, anti-POC ideology behind laughably sanctimonious claims that the Purge is all about spiritual and patriotic betterment. But the film skewers a script that Trump — who doesn’t hide a damn thing about his agenda — has been tearing up for over a year.

Michele K. Short / Universal Pictures

The Purge movies have slowly revealed themselves to be based on a nightmare version of dog-whistle politics in which the slaughtering of the urban poor is coded as an act of cleansing and a ceremony for the social good. But the satire of the annual Purge is blunted by an IRL election cycle that’s been rife with open hatemongering. The Purge: Election Year is about how everyone’s allowed to try to kill one another one night a year, but it’s also about how the rest of the time, most people are, quaintly, keeping up a pretense of unity. The film features colorful carnage — bodies tied to the hood of a car or set on fire outside of a bus stop — but most of it is ultraviolence for the sake of ultraviolence, divorced from motivations that could give them relevance as well as nastiness.

Then again, the Purge movies have always been exasperatingly half-smart, built on a great idea that’s never …read more

Source:: Buzzfeed