Last weekend, The Purge: Election Year, the third installment in the horror franchise, opened. Was it as good as the previous films, or should moviegoers vote “no” at the box office?
The plot is solid in Election Year. Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) returns not to rescue people caught out involuntarily during the purge, but as head of security detail for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). As the title implies, this is an election year, and proponents of the annual purge face tough competition from Senator Roan, hell bent on eliminating the night altogether when she takes office. She watched her family get slaughtered in a purge years ago, spurring her to run for the presidency to abolish the hellish night. Leo agrees with her politics, as he tells her he lost his son and almost did something he would regret on a previous purge night. As you may recall from The Purge: Anarchy, Leo confronts the man responsible for the death of his little boy.
Of course, to the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), purge night is their brainchild. It’s one night of the year for 12 consecutive hours where all crime is legal, including murder. In truth, it’s a legal way to thin the herd. In The Purge: Anarchy, we saw that the rich pay a premium for people to kill, without putting themselves in jeopardy by seeking out their own victims. Eli Roth’s Hostel had a similar concept, where victims were bought for sport to satisfy the bloodlust of the wealthy. The government behind the purge want to kill off the poor and elderly, those unable to afford complex security systems or too frail to fend for themselves. Eliminating this segment of the population means less people draining government funds. The men behind the organization will stop at nothing to prevent the senator from being elected, including assassination. Will they succeed, and will Senator Roan live to see Election Day?
The rules have changed this time around for the annual night of mayhem. No longer are government officials exempt from the purge. Now no one is safe from anyone wishing to take part. Of course, this leaves the outspoken, anti-Purge political candidate open to harm, just what the Founding Fathers want. The NFFA find a way to infiltrate her security team, and it’s up to Leo to keep her safe.
This entry in the series introduces another new element: murder tourism. Yes, it’s now a thing. Not only do you have to worry about your fellow Americans, but now you have to be concerned about foreigners traveling to the U.S. for the sole purpose of taking part in the annual legal night of terror.
As is customary, police and medical personnel are unavailable for assistance until 7:00 a.m. the morning after the purge. People would normally be on their own to make it through the night after suffering injury, but enter Laney Rucker (Betty Gabriel), a no-nonsense woman with a bad ass reputation who cruises the streets in a makeshift ambulance, helping victims of the lawlessness. She transports people to a secret underground triage for treatment until regular medical facilities resume operations.
To clean up the carnage, and to keep Washington beautiful, sanitation workers patrol the streets, piling bodies onto their truck. This is the first time we’ve seen any organized removal.
This installment shows less violence on the streets than I would have liked. Sure, that sounds like bloodlust, but after the first few Saw movies, who else only tuned in to check out Jigsaw’s unique traps? The creative costumes of those purging and methods of murder are part of the appeal of the series. Purge participants are still recognizable by their paper maché masks, carrying a variety of weapons. There were people strapped to the hood of a moving car, and another group used a guillotine for purging. The focus was keeping the senator alive, but I would have liked more street scenes to get an overall feel of how the night was going.
Election Day comes and a new president is announced. However, disgruntled citizens not happy with the results take to the streets to violently voice their displeasure, leaving it open for a fourth purge movie. If another is made, I will be sure to see it.
I enjoyed Election Year and I’m a fan of the franchise. It has rhw originality that so many films are sorely lacking. The stories seem to improve with each new film, which is also unusual, as most sequels never compare with the first in the series. The plots are clever enough to keep you interested. The original was based on a sort of home invasion, and the second was about people caught outside who become targets of those who wish to purge. This one is based on an election year. The trio can easily be binge watched. It’s not exactly a horror film, but there are a couple jump scares thrown in the mix. It’s violent and bloody, showing humans at their worst.
David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans plays as the credits roll. That just about sums it up. This movie will make you afraid of some Americans, too. Elect to see The Purge: Election Year.