The Purge: Election Year Focuses More on Thrill & Suspense than Shock & Gore
Ever since The Purge was released in 2013, I thought it was an incredible idea for a horror film. For starters, it was bone chilling because of the possibility of it becoming reality somewhere in a future dystopian society. It was smart and simple, and genius because if they wanted to, they could continue making sequels telling different stories of others involved in a night of purging; whether it be the same night or different years. Plus I’m a sucker for a well done slasher film. The sequel, Anarchy, came out one year later and while trying to move the series to a grander scale, it proved to be less attractive. The film focused more on shock value and the plot was incredibly unfocused. It was a lot of them throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck; not much did.
Here we are two years later, me once again excited for the third installment. Naming it Election Year is arguably a stroke of marketing genius, and the film was marketed as much of the same, revealing little to the plot. (Spoiler alert: There are actually no references to Trump or Hilary whatsoever.) Well, low and behold, plot has returned and in full force!
I’m going to cut right to it and say this is probably my favorite film of the series, but not for why you’d expect. If you’ve seen each film now, you’ll see each is a completely different type of film. The Purge was in the style of a low budget, single location slasher film. Anarchy was more of what we’ve come to expect of current horror films, which have adapted the term torture porn as their genre. It focused on the over-the-top killings and violent scenes. Character development fell to the wayside, making you care little to none of what happened to the main characters. And the plot was all over the place.
Now, Election Year has tossed everything that’s been previously done to the wayside and has completely reinvented the series. In the film, it’s only months from electing America’s new president. The government’s selection is close to being beat by a running senator who witnessed her family brutally murdered by a purger 25 years previously. If elected, she promises to completely annul the purge as a legal event. The Purge has become to popular around the world, people from other countries are now traveling as tourists to America for the sole purpose of Purging! Which is also adding to the economic wealth of America. Now, of course, those in charge don’t want anything to change and therefore decide to use the upcoming purge as a means of housekeeping and try to assassinate the senator. The film is now a political thriller!
Focusing more on suspense and thrill, the film ironically shows very little purging or gore for that matter. The plot is incredibly story driven focusing on two separate characters’ stories which inevitably become one. (No spoilers, promise.) They even bring back a character from Anarchy, Leo, continuing his story from the second movie. He has become a body/security guard for the senator and vows to protect her at all costs throughout the film. Because of all of this character development, we once again care about the characters we’re watching on the screen.
The film has many good characters throughout, good and bad, which really wraps you into the story. There is some excellent humor worked into the script and even a few moments where you can’t help but cheer and clap for what just happened.
This is the third film of the series and therefore could be well be the end of a trilogy. For me, I would be satisfied with it because the series has such a variety in it and I feel this is a fitting end to it. But I’m sure the studio could find a way to continue it along. If you attend the film in search of the torture porn or slasher scares, unfortunately you’re out of luck, so be warned. But that doesn’t make this a bad film in the last. It just makes it not cliché. It’s a different type of suspense and thrill, and I for one appreciated it as a fresh take!