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Anarchy, Discord and Hope?


Before seeing “The Purge: Election Year” which aired this July, you might want to familiarize yourself with the preceding film, “The Purge: Anarchy.” While it does have its faults, in general I find the second movie to be an interesting installment in the series, and maybe even an improvement upon the original.

The film takes place in a fictional United States, where the Founding Fathers first promoted the “Purge” as a traditional and annual day for the country. During “Purging Day,” which lasts 12 hours, all crimes are legal — including murder.

“The Purge” series is built on an interesting premise; when the United States allows all crimes and killings, will it suppress society’s criminal urges? And if so, at what expense?

As the second installment in the series, “The Purge: Anarchy” does not have to spend time explaining the concept of the purge, and instead can delve deeper into how it affects society. This is shown through an expansion of the setting from the original movie. In the first movie, the film focuses around one household, but “The Purge: Anarchy” highlights a social experiment, as members of several classes and races have to come together to survive. In this sense, “The Purge: Anarchy” is often considered an improvement upon the somewhat unoriginal and stale flow of the first installment. In fact, the original “Purge” was a huge disappointment when it was released — with such a promising premise, directors instead decided to conform to the cliché home invasion theme coupled with average acting from the cast.

In “The Purge: Anarchy,” tension and fear is built up throughout the plot. The frequent wide-shots of the group wandering around the city suggest foreboding and suspense rather than a sense of freedom. This is due to the mise-en-scène of empty streets and dimly lit corners, which allow for the dominance of darkness. The terror is gradually constructed through uncertainty. It’s hard to tell where and when the main characters will encounter the murderous groups that are hungry for blood. This uncertainty is what keeps the group members, as well as the audience, perpetually on edge. Even when the background is then confined to an apartment room, the temporarily peaceful atmosphere soon turns out to be just an illusion to further emphasize the constant risk of death that they are all facing. Nowhere is safe. Only running provides a chance of survival.

The aggressors’ masks used in the movie serve to display the horrific nature of humanity’s innermost impulses and hatred. People who come from different backgrounds and classes all become equally barbaric when they hide their identities behind these masks. Interestingly, however, the rich people who participate in the purge don’t wear masks. The contrast between these two groups, the oppressors and the oppressed, is highlighted in this sense. In the end, those who are privileged have no need for masks, as no one objects to their violence.

“The Purge: Anarchy” is a decent movie that has made some positive improvements on acting and storyline. Although the climax can be a bit unsatisfying for some, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as the film as a whole. The open ending (in some aspects) of the movie accurately reflects the unsolved conflict between social classes and leaves room for the next movie of the franchise, “The Purge: Election Year.”

While I would not recommend “The Purge,” “The Purge: Anarchy” is actually a good choice if you’re interested in seeing the next installment of the franchise.

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