Carving out an enviable reputation in Hollywood for not only producing interesting and innovative horror movies, but turning micro-budget projects into astronomical successes at the box office, Jason Blum is easily one of the hottest properties in the business.
Shot for just $3m but bringing home almost $90m worldwide, last year’s The Purge was one of those success stories. Exploring an interesting, if dark and twisted, concept, the film was in the near future when crime and unemployment rates in the US have reached unprecedented lows. With the country now governed by the New Founding Fathers of America, for one night only all crime is deemed legal, while the police and emergency services are suspended.
In the first film, Purge night saw a bunch of unruly neighbours attack their local home security expert, and now just over a year on, in sequel The Purge: Anarchy, we’re stuck out on the street.
Following four unsuspecting citizens who find themselves far away from home, they fortunately join up with a tooled-up citizen as they try to get to safety. However, it’s not before long when they find themselves in the middle of a cat and mouse game of capture, and odds seemingly against them getting through the night.
Exploring how the rich and poor spend Purge night, the core concept of The Purge: Anarchy is still interesting and writer/director James DeMonaco does a good job of bringing a new angle to the franchise. Being locked out on the street was a logical next step for the story, but it is done well, with our protagonists forever looking over their shoulders.
On the whole, however, the film is far less successful than its predecessor. The plot points are often telegraphed while some scenes feel very forced and stereotypical, but the biggest frustration is in apparently how much influence co-producer Michael Bay had over the production. This doesn’t feel like a Jason Blum film, it doesn’t even feel like a James DeMonaco film, The Purge: Anarchy feels like a Michael Bay film through and through, and it pays the price.
Seemingly borrowed from Bay’s Transformers franchise, the overbearing soundtrack ruins any sense of terror and excitement, while lens flares fill the screen any time the camera moves but an inch. The film has lost its soul, its life sapped by the filmmaker’s ar duous style, and its a great disappointment because there are definitely still legs in the central idea. Hopefully the inevitable third outing is back to the glories of the original.