"Suitably gentle for Purge beginners."
by Dorothy Billing on 04/07/18

Can you ever get enough? Three cinematic purges later this fourth installment serves up the eagerly anticipated appetizer, simply titled " The First Purge" . This time, Gerard McMurray directs, while former director of the previous movies, James DeMonaco, writes and co produces.

Set in the year 2014, America is a nation in crisis. The story opens with news footage showing a plethora of social problems, for which there's no easy solution.
In a desperate bid to drastically lower the crime rate, the NFFA ( New Founding Fathers of America) and psychologist Dr Updale, already have an action plan which, they feel, is bound to succeed. How would it be if you could purge yourself of all hate, evil and violence? What a concept! And how would it feel if all crime was legal? Even murder.

Cue the unsuspecting citizens of Staten Island, New York. If they stay for the night of The Purge, they'll be richly compensated, hey, they might even get to participate!

There's some good casting overall in the movie, Marisa Tomei as Dr Updale is cold and analytical, and complemented well by Patch Darragh as the the NFFA's Chief of Staff, Arlo Sabian, who's equally ruthless, Y' Lan Noel is also very good as crime lord Dmitri. But it has to be said, they're all nearly outshone by Rotimi Paul as the mad junkie, Skeletor, who's terrifying enough even before the event!

Interestingly, some of the scenes in the movie are also quite similar to the political issues of America today. There are indirect references to the KKK, urban poverty, crime and unrest, as well as attacks on places of worship. But it's still first and foremost, a horror movie, and not necessarily a vehicle for political statements.

So how scary is this? The violence and gore are certainly not gratuitous here, not forgetting that this is about purging for beginners, and that cautious lambs do need some persuasion to be encouraged to slaughter! While the bloodshed is subtle, the shocks are similarly a little tame, especially compared to what you've seen in the other Purge movies. In the same vein, the suspense could have been tighter. But there are still some memorable goodies in the Purge store! Not least exploding Teddy bears, Skeletor's erratic antics and some exciting fight scenes towards the end of the movie. Entertaining and not over long at 97 minutes, it also showcases an array of talented new Black actors. Well worth a watch if you're a first time purger...

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