The First Purge Review
Going all the way back to the beginning of the purge, The First Purge attempts to shed light on how the phenomenon shown in the other films was realized. Unfortunately not all of the social and political ideas the filmmakers wanted to tackle are fully utilized and are constantly overpowered by mediocre effects and an overabundance of characters.
The prequel showcases an America decidedly fed up with the government’s lack of effort to fix many of the issues facing the American people and the rise of the political faction known as The New Founding Fathers. With this new political faction, came the social experiment known as “the purge” where laws would be stripped away for 12 hours in order to let citizens purge violent urges.
The scene is set for the experiment to take place on Staten Island and many residents, like Nya (Lex Scott Davis), are protesting the experiment and even using local churches to hid residents who don’t want to participate. But, whether they want to or not, the purge begins and Nya, her brother Isaiah (Joivan White), and local gang leader Dimitri (Y’Lan Noel) are left to both fend for themselves and protect the one’s they love as they attempt to survive the night.
The First Purge shows how showcases Blumhouse Production’s love for low-budget horror filmmaking, but unfortunately its show in the worst ways. Some of the film’s special effects are actually quite interesting. One in particular is the effect used on character’s eyes to show the camera lens to record their purge antics. It’s an effect that works really well with the plot and add some really creepy and tense moments into the film.
However, some of the special effect are distractingly bad and show where the budget clearly didn’t go. The blood effects are definitely not the best and look incredibly fake as well as some scenes looking like they were literally just green-screened for no reason. This is something that Blumhouse has to pay more attention with as it could hinder them for future films.
For me, the plot felt very relevant and I found it actually incredibly interesting compared to the other films. With The First Purge, the filmmakers set a different tone than the previous films as the characters aren’t aware of what could happen in the purge making their reactions to what is happening around them feel a little more real. However, these moments are a little muddled by the film trying to make too many characters feel important. The film constantly tries to make viewers care about forgettable characters and attempts to shock audiences with reveals that fall completely flat.
Not to mention, that a lot of the connections to the film’s main trio feel a little under-developed and lack a satisfying punch when those characters come into play. The film’s villains also feel a tad under-developed, except for Rotimi Paul’s Skeletor as he brings a terrifying presence with every scene he is in.
Social themes are big players in the story-line as well with concepts of racial inequality and government control being strongly seen throughout the film. However, these concepts are weighed-down by the constant cutting between different groups of characters.
I also wanted to mention how The First Purge does a great job of establishing the creepy and unsettling world it sets up. News broadcast always add more context to the action we are watching and makes its viewers feel as if they are a part of the world onscreen. The masks and factions also add more interest to the film’s lore and showcase how creative Blumhouse gets with each film.
The First Purge shows that it is a worthy entry in the franchise with its relatable main characters and oddly realistic world. It definitely falls flat with its lame effects and unbearable amount of forgettable minor characters, but it’s still a relatively enjoyable watch nonetheless.