The year is 2022 and the United States Government has issued the annual Purge. The tradition, depicted here in a dystopian future, began in 2015 when “The New Founding Fathers of America” voted into office a national civic tradition called “The Purge,” the first of which takes place in 2018. For 12 hours from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., all crime is legal including murder. Police, fire and medical emergency services remain unavailable. Government officials “ranking 10 or higher” are immune from the tradition, which is initially thought to eliminate crime 364 days of the year. Naturally, the worst in everyone comes out on Purge Night and all sorts of weapons are used including grenades, rocket launchers, and bazookas. Profiting from this scenario are insurance companies, security technicians and the U.S. Government pays less in medicare and unemployment. The economic collapse is purged and unemployment rates plummeted to one percent, a historic low crime rate, and a strong economy.
The Purge: Election Year (2016) marks the third installment in the franchise and clearly a close second to the original film that launched the series. The first film, released theatrically in 2013, cost a reported $3 million to produce and generated a little more than $89 million in the box office. Historically, the highest grossing movie with the lowest budget since 1988. (Fans of the original Star Trek series suspect the premise may have been lifted from “The Return of the Archons” episode.) It came as no surprise that Universal Studios followed a playbook from Lionsgate and quickly commissioned a sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, in 2014, taking place a year after the events of the last movie, in 2023. Production cost between $9 and $11 million and generated $111 million at the box office. Many critics claimed the sequel had a better premise than the first one, a vast improvement over its predecessor, but I disagree.
Thankfully, Universal Studios took an extra year to structure their third entry, again with a budget of $10 million. The financial success of any motion picture is maintaining high production values and low operating budgets. With an opening weekend box office of $90 million, it can be certain that Universal Studios will continue making sequels in what has become a steadfast series of horror movies.
For this third entry, the events take place in 2022, the evening of the first movie. Senator Roan is gaining percentage points in her campaign for U.S. Presidency and should she win the up-coming election, there will be an end to The Purge. Roan claims The Purge only serves to eliminate the poor, the homeless and other lower classes of society that make up of the majority of America’s population, serving only financial purposes — not moral. She is rivaled by Minister Edwidge Owens, a New Founding Father member set up as a candidate to maintain the status quo. When the Founding Fathers use the upcoming Purge to eliminate her from play, they revoke the rule that protects ranking 10 government officials, appearing to attempt to reconcile with the people. Senator Roan is no longer immune and hunted like an African Lion in the woods, as she roams the jungle of Washington, D.C., attempting to save her hide. Unlikely allies come from street rebels but Senator Roan insists that good will triumph evil. But will she survive the night amidst psychotic teenage slashers, advanced weaponry involving drones, lunatics on the streets and the entire U.S. Government against her?
What started as a small arthouse thriller not only became the best horror movie of the year, but launched a franchise that makes us wonder (without giving away the ending) whether or not there will be additional sequels. It seems fanboys are devoting most of their time wondering if Universal will produce a fourth film. If box office dollars is any indication, the studio will continue making sequels. And leaving us wanting more is not a bad thing.