It’s the third outing for James DeMonaco’s Purge franchise and it is election time. The Purge: Election Year, the sequel to 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy, picks up two years on with Frank Grillo’s super-slick security chief Leo Barnes back in business, this time protecting Presidential candidate and anti-purge campaigner Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) from her growing list of enemies.
Each film in this trilogy has brought with it a lot of intrigue. Its concept – 12 hours, one day a year, anything (including murder) bloody well goes – immediately catches your attention, and its previous two outings have both been decently dark chiller fodder without ever blowing our intrigued minds. The aptly timed Election Year appears to bring the franchise full circle as we’re given a wide-eyed view of the political wrangling surrounding the highly controversial purge night.
Other than Roan’s attempted climb to the White House – an effort inspired by her own family being murdered during the deadly annual event – we’re introduced to US everyman Joe Dixon (Mykelti), the epitome of the American Dream. The hard-working shop owner, out during the Purge because the insurance on his beloved shop has sky-rocketed, offers us another timely chunk of social-political context to all things purge.
With purgers dancing in the streets, their blood-soaked machetes and Halloween masks glistening as the city’s street lights twinkle in the background, DeMonaco’s trilogy has always been an eye-catching experience. These shocking moments of brutality – a cross between the creepiness of The Wicker Man and Eyes Wide Shut if it all just turned bat-shit dark – are the stand-out moments of an otherwise serviceable spectacle. Lots of crazy eyes and sinister speeches raise the hairs on your arms, but underneath that – despite an ever interesting concept – there’s not enough meat to its bones to really step the franchise up to another level.
Election Year is another very able addition to a likeable, if not thoroughly convincing, franchise. Brilliant to look at, and, in moments, shockingly gripping, you’d like to see, hear and think more about what’s happening beyond the reddened streets, rather than what’s on them.