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The First Purge Movie Review 2

The First Purge

(L-R): Joivan Wade plays Isaiah, and Lex Scott Davis stars as Nya, in director Gerard McMurray’s horror prequel, ‘The First Purge.’

Title: ‘The First Purge’

Director: Gerard McMurray (‘Burning Sands‘)

Starring: Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez and Marisa Tomei

Behind every tradition lies a revolution. This Independence Day, Americans, as well as countries around the globe, can continue to witness how one of the planet’s most influential countries welcome a movement that began as a simple experiment, and is now increasingly damaging people’s lives. That insurgency is occurring in both fictitious and real America, and is marked by the release of the latest entry in ‘The Purge’ series.

‘The First Purge,’ which was directed by Gerard McMurray, is set to open in theaters tomorrow across America by Universal Pictures. The prequel, which was produced in part by Platinum Dunes and Blumhouse Productions, showcases what happens when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized.

set in the present day, ‘The First Purge’ opens with news footage that shows white supremacists in the streets of America, protesting growing economic challenges, as the country becomes increasingly divided over politics. As the presidential election rages on, a new political party, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), rises in popularity, as Americans are growing increasingly more wary of both the Democratic and Republican leaders.

A new president is elected to the American government, which is now led by the NFFA, as they launch their new Experiment, which is later dubbed as the Purge. Before becoming a nationwide event in later years, the first Purge is limited to just the New York City borough of Staten Island. Residents are given the option by the government to leave the island during the title experiment, in order to remain safe. Or, they can be paid $5,000 to stay and participate in the initial testing of the sociological theory that allows people to vent their aggression for the 12-hour period, during which time all crime, even murder, will be legalized.

As Purge night grows closer, Nya (Lex Scott Davis) is determined to maintain her positive new outlook on life. The ex-gang member is also trying to steer her brother, Isaiah (Jovian Wade), from following in her former footsteps. But he’s secretly eager to start working for his sister’s ex-boyfriend, Dmitiri (Y’lan Noel), who’s a powerful local drug kingpin. Despite his activities, Dmitiri is just as skeptical of the Purge as Nya, and the two both hope the experiment fails to gain a public following.

When the experiment is initially launched, only a few people relish in their newly legal ability to terrorize their neighborhood. Like Nya and her ex-boyfriend hoped, albeit for different reasons, most of of the population on Staten Island either remain in their homes or other secure locations, or party on a grand scale in the streets.

The Purge’s initial turnout is so poor that the future of the experiment is pushed into jeopardy. Dr. Updale (Marisa Tomei), who came up with the idea for the Purge, appears to be genuinely surprised that people, especially oppressed minorities, aren’t more actively killing each other. As a result, the NFFA decides to take drastic action to ensure that the initial experiment is perceived as a success.

While the initial 2013 film in ‘The Purge’ series told an intriguing home invasion story about a privileged family fighting to protect each other against local threats on Purge night, the subsequent two sequels and prequel have stunningly proven how a horror series can actually improve with each new entry. ‘The Purge’ franchise has become an intriguing and unique powerhouse that proves that not only does violence provoke physical scares, but also lasting emotional turmoil.

The standout prequel, which was written and produced by James DeMonaco, who penned and directed the previous three entries, maintains the series’ signature relatability, in terms of American citizens not wanting to be oppressed by their government. While the first three films largely focus on the public’s drive to protect themselves while also fighting back against their government that wishes to only serve itself and the upper class, DeMonaco and McMurray grippingly showcase in ‘The First Purge’ why and how the NFFA coerced and manipulated the impoverished citizens of Staten Island into mindlessly following its devious scheme.

While the series, which also includes this fall’s 10-episode limited television event that will focus on the formation of the Purge during its early years, initially began as a dystopian-driven hostage slasher movie that’s set in the near future, it has now evolved into America’s most realistic and relatable horror franchise. If the growing propaganda that political leaders push in each ‘Purge’ film that wrongfully influence their followers that the annual legalized crime spree is needed to maintain an otherwise peaceful society was taken away, the Purge would reveal its true nature of government-sanctioned genocide.

The ending of 2016’s ‘The Purge: Election Year’ left promising optimism that humanity can indeed realize its troubling attributes and work to improve society, as Senator Charlie Roan was chosen to be America’s next president on the platform of ending the night of legalized crime. ‘The First Purge’ further proves that officials’ promises can also alter people’s decisions, but on the reverse side, as the leaders’ seemingly positive assurances are often driven by their own greedy motives. Knowing that the Purge does, in fact, eventually find its rightful end, the new prequel and upcoming television show allow the smart franchise to continue on, and reflect on contemporary political issues that are influencing Americans’ actions, both on-screen and off.

Technical: B+

Acting: B-

Story: B+

Overall: B

Movie Review Details
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Director Gerard McMurray's horror prequel, 'The First Purge'
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As a life-long fan of entertainment, particularly films, television and music, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic. While still attending college, Karen began writing for Shockya during the summer of 2007, when she began writing horror movie reviews. Since she began writing for Shockya, Karen has been promoted to the position of Senior Movies & Television Editor. Some of her duties in the position include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, producing posts on celebrity news and contributing reviews on albums and concerts. Some of her highlights include attending such festivals and conventions as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, SXSW, Toronto After Dark, the Boston Film Festival and New York Comic-Con.

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