Review: The First Purge

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Keia Harris
Arts and Entertainment Editor

On July 4, 2018, the movie “The First Purge” was released in theatres nationwide. Written and directed by James DeMonaco, “‘The First Purge’” is the fourth film in the series, bringing the story back to its gruesome origin. With the film bringing in over $9.4 million in its opening weekend, “The First Purge” is the highest grossing entry in the franchise thus far.

The movie takes place in the 21st century, where the government is now being run by the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA). This organization is overseen by Arlo Sabian (Patch Darragh) and Dr. May Updale (Marisa Tomei). They have initiated an experiment that will take place on Staten Island, a predominantly minority and low-income community.

The writers did a phenomenal job of depicting the setting, a poor area overtaken by drugs and crime that has been, quite honestly, abandoned by the rest of society. Not only does the community not feel supported by the government, but they do not feel safe or supported in their own communities. This creates feelings of division and mistreatment amongst one another.

The NFFA uses this division and anger in the community to their advantage by introducing this deadly experiment to an already strained community.

The Purge is advertised as a way for community members to release their anger and frustrations by any means necessary without any consequences. The NFFA offers community members a $5000 compensation for staying on the island during the 12 hour experiment and extra compensation to leave their home and participate in the experiment.

In the days prior to the experiment, community members express their frustrations and feelings of being mistreated while being interviewed by government workers to sign up for the experiment. Other community members, like character Nya (Lex Scott Davis), are seen peacefully protesting against the Purge, saying it is another strategic way for the government to keep their community down.

It seems as if the community is split between whether or not this “purge” could be beneficial for the community or go terribly wrong. Even neighborhood drug lord Dmitri expresses his disapproval of the event, saying he does not “trust” the government’s purpose behind this experiment.

DeMonaco did an excellent job depicting the strained and mistrusted relationship between people in authority and minority and low income communities around America. The movie alluded to the idea that government agencies maintain control over groups of people through division.

It was interesting to observe the strategic placement of the experiment in a predominately poor neighborhood, rather than a predominantly wealthy community. This section of the plot brilliantly depicts the feelings of rejection, abandonment and betrayal felt by minorities in America still today.

During the evening of the purge commencement, the NFFA and the world watched in anticipation to see what will result in the night of free rein.

Viewers watched and waiting while most of the city participants were out throwing parties and socializing. Members of the NFFA were not pleased that their perfectly calculated experiment was not so perfect and the false picture of a savage mentality in these communities were not being depicted on screen to the world. In a dramatic change of events, a number of mysterious gangs armed with powerful foreign weapons spread throughout the city, and within a number of minutes, the killing rate in Staten Island skyrocketed.

In a thrilling mix of horror, action and politics, this film depicts a message of power, control and, may I say, systemic racism?

Categories: Arts & Entertainment


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