By Jordan Peterson | @thefilmmajor

Director: Gerard McMurray
Writer: James DeMonaco
Starring: Y’Ian Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Marissa Tomei
Release date: July 4, 2018
Rated: R

‘The Purge’ is a frustrating franchise. Each time a new film comes out, I walk into the theater fingers crossed. “This will be the one,” I tell myself. “This will be the ‘Purge’ movie that finally sticks the landing; the one that makes the most of the series’ darkly twisted, satirical premise and justifies my looking forward to each new installment.” Each time, unfortunately, I walk out disappointed and The First Purge is no exception.

The Story

Once a year for twelve consecutive hours, all crime in America is made legal. This includes heinous acts such as rape, murder, theft, arson, and whatever. The idea is that this allows the nation to purge itself of any pent up rage and/or anxieties so that the rest of the year can be lived in relative peace. That’s how it’s pitched to the American people, anyways.

Before the Purge could be ratified, however, the New Founding Fathers had to demonstrate that it was an idea that could work. Thus Staten Island, New York was selected to be the testing ground for, you guessed it, the first Purge.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering “What kind of crazy person would willingly stay home for such an awful experiment?” Those who need money. You see, the government will pay $5,000 to anyone who stays on the island during those twelve hours. Plus there’s a substantial bonus included if you voluntarily participate in the first Purge.

We follow Nya (Lex Scott Davis), a young activist and humanitarian who’s passionately opposed to the Purge, and her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade), an amateur drug mule looking to take advantage of the Purge in order to get back at someone who hurt him, as they try to survive the hellish evening.

The Good

Director Gerard McMurray’s film is competently shot and crafted with a style that’s dark yet simple and effective. Since the Purge movies began emphasizing hard-R action in in The Purge: Anarchy, it’s much easier to tell what’s going on during action sequences in The First Purge.

Speaking of action, the third act mostly follows Dmitri, the local rough and rugged drug kingpin who has a miraculous change of heart late in the film and decides to help defend his community during the Purge. We’re with him as he ascends the bloodied killing-floors of Nya and Isaiah’s apartment complex, blowing away armed government goons one by one. It’s a bloody fun scene that left me wishing the whole movie had instead been The Purge meets Die Hard.

The Bad

The script, once again penned by series creator James DeMonaco, is narratively and thematically flat. There’s no work put into getting us to care about these characters or what happens to them. Similarly, DeMonaco seems uninterested in exploring the rich subtext that his narratives imply, at least beyond stuffing in a bunch of expositional news footage of poorly-acted reporters asking unrealisticly on-the-nose questions about the morality of the Purge experiment.


The First Purge will definitely satisfy fans of the franchise or anyone simply looking to get their fill of gross-out gore. Anything else and I would suggest looking elsewhere.

Grade: C-

Those are my thoughts on The First Purge. Did you get a chance to catch the movie? If so, what did you think? If not, I still want to hear from you so feel free to hit me up in the comments below!


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