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The Purge

3.75 out of 5.0

Unemployment is at a 1% low, crime is non-existent.  Life is good, well at least that is what we think.  The United States of America has given the people the right to commit crimes no matter how heinous for 12 hours one day a year.  This is known as The Purge.

This is allowed so people who have hatred, or anger towards people can lash out  and take out their frustrations any way they see fit.  Though weapons above a Class 4 ratings are not allowed and high ranking officials have immunity and can not be touched.  Everyone else is fair game.

This story is about one family’s ordeal through this torrid 12 hours and pushes them to their limits of morality and puts them in the situation we have seen before, the situation of how far would one go for their family.

Director James DeMonaco puts us into a night filled will extreme tension and brutal violence.  This is an idea that may seem good to some but definitely shouldn’t see the light of day.  His movie is lean, clocking in under an hour and 30 minutes and James DeMonaco uses every minute of it to weave a tale of brutality and makes you question yourself, ‘what would I do in this type of situation’.

The situation the family gets in starts when the son lets in a man searching for help during The Purge.  No one knows who he is or what he is doing in their neighborhood.  This brings on the group that are out to purge this man and go about their lives and pits the family in the struggle of do they keep the guy safe or let him loose to the purgers.  DeMonaco takes time getting here and really slowly lets the tension build.  This works very nicely because throughout the movie you can feel it building, like a pop that is slowly coming to boil.  When it hits it’s breaking point bad things happen.

DeMonaco doesn’t shy away from the violence either, especially in the opening title sequence that is littered with security cam footage from the years before purging.  The opening is brutal and very unsettling which sets the tone for the movie quickly.

The only really light hearted feel you get is after the credit sequence as the day is getting setup.  When it’s time for The Purge to start, the tone shifts into darkness.  The movie has many dark points and for the most part DeMonaco does a great job with pulling no punches, until the very end.

This is where the movie fell flat for me.  Everything was hitting the right notes and the viciousness of the evening is felt throughout the film until the ending scene.  I felt that DeMonaco pushed you to the mouth of madness and right at the last minute before falling in he pulls you back.  It wouldn’t have been the ending I would have chosen, though getting there, there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming.  I was pleasantly surprised when those twists came and thought the ending was going to go full tilt.

The acting throughout the movie was great.  Ethan Hawke as the father James Sandin, plays the part well and you feel that what he is doing is the right thing for his family.  Hawke usually always does a good job and this movie is no exception.

The mother Mary Sandin, played by the wonderful Lena Headey, is portrayed nicely on screen and Headey gives a good performance as mother who is conflicted about the whole purge night, and this comes across wonderfully in later scenes.  A very strong performance from a strong actress.

Max Burkholder and Adelaide Kane play the children Charlie and Zoey.  Beautiful performances from both, especially from Adelaide who has the most emotional part between them.  The director did a good job getting strong performances from  the younger performers.

Rhys Wakefield takes on the role of the Polite Stranger who comes knocking on the door to claim the injured man the family has hiding in their home.  He is down right creepy in this role and really rises to the occasion as the main villain in the movie.  Though at moments he felt a little over the top, overall he played the part well.  The rest of the crew that made up his gang were equally as scary and creepy and added to the overall rising tension as the movie went on.

Edwin Hodge who has a wonderful TV career was cast in the role of the strange, the man who was injured and looking for a place to hide out the night.  He’s not in a lot of the scenes but the ones he was in were well done.

Is this a movie for you to see?  If you like dark, heavy, brutally violent movies then you should enjoy this movie.  If you are very squeamish then it might not be your cup of tea.  Overall it is a good movie and I can recommend it, with the caveat being the ending though you may even end up liking the ending.

Overall I give this movie 3.75 out of 5.  It would have scored higher from me but the ending kind of ruined it a little for me.  It is a good movie and gives good scares and it is a pretty intense night out to the movies.  ‘Till next time my friends.



Mama Poster

3.0 Out of 5

We all like to be scared when going to a scary, or suspenseful horror movie.  “Mama” and movies like this, rely on suspense, building up of tension to bring on the scares through out the movie.  This movie doesn’t rely on gore or grisly deaths to shock the viewer, but tension and the illusion as to what one sees and hears.

The question is does this movie effectively do that for the viewer.  The answer is a double edge blade.  On one hand it does frighten, but more on a character level.  On the other hand which is the movie level I felt it falls flat.

The story for “Mama” is a simple one.  Two girls father comes home after killing two people at work and kills his estranged wife and takes the kids away.  They have an accident and their speeding car goes off the road and they take refuge  in an old dilapidated cabin.  The father decides he is going to kill the daughters there and take his own life, but an entity in the cabin stops them.

Five years later the girls’ uncle is still looking for them and his brother.  They are finally found and are brought home to life with their uncle and his girlfriend.  That is when trouble sets in.

Don’t be fooled by the advertisements.  This isn’t directed by Guillermo del Tor, he is an executive producer.  The movie is directed and partly written by Andrés Muschietti.  While Andrés handles the camera well through out the film, building the tension and trying to creep us, the movie-goes out, I feel that he takes too long to get where he needs to be going.  There are times when the tension is building and things start to turn creepy but end up falling flat because, if you have seen the many trailers for this film, you pretty much seen most of the big scare scenes.

What he does well though is give us a very intense and very frightening creature in the character Mama.  From the looks of the character, to her movements, to the character’s sounds, Mama is one frightening creature.  That works well throughout the movie which at least gives you some decent frightening moments, especially one very frightening scene near the end back at the cabin.

The movie though falls into the trap of building too slowly.  This in turn makes the movie start to feel very repetitive throughout the production and more than a few times I was checking to see how long we had left.  The crowd at the cinema that night was in the same boat.  I don’t think one person there, aside from my wife, reacted to any of the scare scenes that were added for jump effect.  This is where I feel that it fails as a horror film.  Some scenes and a character or two could have been trimmed or even left out of the movie, such as the children’s aunt.  I felt that her character was completely unnecessary and could have been written out altogether.  She has a scene later on in the film that made me groan and roll my eyes as to why it was even added.

Now the movie isn’t a total write off.  The acting was great.  Jessica Chastain from “Zero Dark Thirty” gives a great performance as Annabel the girlfriend to the uncle.  She’s almost unrecognizable with her jet black hair, tattoos, and eyeliner.  She’s a rocker at heart but stands by her man in his trials of bringing up these feral children they pulled from the woods.  You really feel for her throughout the movie because she’s pretty much left alone to raise these children that she really doesn’t want around.

The two children, Megan Charpentier as Victoria and Isabelle Nelisse as Lilly were terrific in the movie, especially Isabelle as Lilly.  She had a very cute but very creepy side to her as she was the one most attached to Mama.  Just by her facial expressions and eyes you could tell that something was terribly wrong with this child.  Her sister Victoria was the most developed of the two children and has the more serious part of the two.  Megan does a great job in portraying a child that is torn between family and the attachment that is waning with Mama.

The pace at the start of the film I felt was a little rushed but once it slowed down, it almost slowed to a crawl.

Over all I give his movie 3 stars out of 5.  It’s not a terrible movie but it just isn’t that great as a horror movie.  It needed more frights for the dollar, and ones that you couldn’t see coming.  When you go for scares and the audience isn’t reacting to them you have a problem on your hands.  It did take the weekend box office last weekend taking in 30 million so something seems to have worked in it’s favor.

If you plan on seeing this in the cinema, wait until a matinee, don’t rush in and pay full price.  If you elect to pass on it, at least rent it when it’s out on VOD or on DVD/Blu ray.  It’s definitely worth rental price, just not full theatre ticket price.  Till next time my friends