Sunday, 27 January 2019

The Purge: Season 1 ★☆☆☆☆

Here’s something that could’ve gone either way. Despite the quality of the films being pretty frustratingly low, I will always stand by the premise of The Purge franchise as being one of the strongest and most original in the horror genre in recent years. The idea of a night of horrors where all crime is legal has the potential to make some staggeringly good films – but unfortunately, the premise has been squandered on cheap scares and cliché after the first mediocre film. The franchise’s creator, James DeMonaco, decided back in 2017 to take his Purge-iverse to the next level by bringing the story to the small screen. A good idea. A good execution? Hmmm.

Taking place over one Purge Night, the series’ pacing is understandably a hell of a lot slower than the films. In an attempt to drag this out, we see the night unfold across three disconnected storylines and three perspectives that seemingly have no connection to one another…or do they? With each episode covering an hour of the night and a lot of quiet moments throughout, we often don’t get the feeling of horror and dread that the films at least tried to deliver by portraying such a quick onslaught of violence and attacks. Here, we have almost 10 hours of content, telling basically the same story that has been told in the first 4 Purge films.

The premise is still the USP, and always will be for this franchise. But the writers need to learn to not rest on their laurels – there’s only so far the concept behind The Purge can get you. With such weak acting, poor writing and bland characters, we’ve got nothing to keep us around after our first taste of The Purge on screen. That is the problem with the film’s sequels, and certainly the problem here. There is nothing to sink our teeth into as an audience, which is very important considering how innovative horror can be now when the creatives put in effort – recent films like Ghost Stories, Get Out, A Quiet Place and Hereditary all go to show that there is a hell of a lot of life in the genre, and it isn’t all blood and guts like Saw might lead you to believe.

On the whole, this cash-in series feels like one big missed opportunity. While it could’ve been used as a vehicle to right the wrongs of the films, it strengthens their flaws and drags them out into a hot bloated mess. Starting off with promise, the show quickly descends into a predictable exercise in mundanity with dull subplots and unlikeable characters. But I will not lose faith in The Purge yet. I know that somebody can make this premise work on screen, either in the cinema or on television. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Until then, The Purge: Season One is a disappointing attempt to develop a promising premise and only serves to remind us that not all ideas work on the small screen. 

Sam Love

The Purge at CeX

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