time is nine years from now, America in 2022. The “New Founders of
America” have decreed that every year there will be a 12 hour period
when all laws are suspended, including murder. The idea is for people to
get rid of all their bad urges in this 12 hour period. As a result,
according to the government, violent crime is way down the rest of the
story germinated in the mind of writer/director James DeMonaco when he
juxtaposed two incidents in his mind. The first was a road rage
confrontation he had in the presence of his wife. The second occurred a
few years later when he was living in Toronto and noticed that the
Canadian TV news was far less violent than American news, which
concentrates on violent acts. So he devised this story as a devastating
indictment, not on American culture, but on the news that the main
stream media chooses to report, and how that affects American culture.
Sandin (Ethan Hawke) has made a fortune building houses that can be
turned into fortresses for wonderful security. After he and his wife,
Mary (Lena Heady) and two children Charlie (Max Burkholder) and Zoey
(Adelaide Kane) prepare for the night of purging, it begins. As a bloody
stranger (Edwin Hodge) enters the picture, things quickly go from good
to bad to horrible.
can suspend your incredulity, and accept the premise, this is a gripping
thriller aided immeasurably by tension-enhancing music (Nathan
Whitehead) and neo-Gothic cinematography (Jacques Jouffret), which keep
this from descending into a camp horror film. It is produced by Michael
Bay who knows his way around a thriller.
Heady, Burkholder, Kane, and Hodge give fine performances, as does the
main bad guy, Rhys Wakefield, who is unfailingly but frightenly polite
and well-dressed. This was on the cusp of being camp and laughable, but
for me it held up, even through the violent, bloody ending.