The First Purge is the fourth in the Purge series and it’s the least successful entry in a franchise that has become increasingly popular. This prequel takes us back to when the purge was just a scientific experiment and not a nationwide spectacle. Having already achieved a rather brilliant trilogy of films, series creator James DeMarco lets Helmer Gerard McMurray take the reins and the result is a mixed bag. DeMarco has retained his writing credit on this picture, but here he seems to repeat himself in theme and even plotting in this outing.
Staten Island has been chosen to host the first ever ‘Purge.’ A 12-hour span of time in which any criminal act is deemed lawful. The city’s citizens are offered $5,000 to participate in the ‘experiment’ and the money is too good for the impoverished neighborhood folks to ignore. This sets up the making of a disaster as some become assailants and other helpless victims. A drug lord (Y’Lan Noel), a brother and sister, and two ladies from a local church shelter must survive the night and the government paid mercenaries out to kill off the lower-class.
The concept behind that creatively drives this series is undeniably fascinating and powerful. And the picture along with its predecessors should be lauded for its intelligence and high-brow execution. The First Purge is most likely the last of the Purge films and the strains of stretching the idea across four films are beginning to show, but as a bookend, to a consistently thought-provoking, scary, entertaining set of movies, it almost works.
Director: Gerard McMurray
Stars: Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade