In the age of hyper-fast cinematic reboots, there’s one ongoing franchise that should already be rebooted: The Purge.
Despite the fact that the creators of the Purge series struck conceptual gold, the actual films uniformly fail to live up to that concept’s potential. The first entry, The Purge, is essentially a home invasion thriller that makes clumsy overtures towards class commentary. Quite simply, The Purge needs to get way Purgier than it already is.
The concept behind the first Purge movie is so comically simple that it is brilliant: what if, for one 12-hour window a year, all crime was… legal? This logistically minor change would have massive ramifications on society as a whole, but the trilogy does a subpar job of fleshing these out. The second film — The Purge: Anarchy — takes viewers out into the streets of Los Angeles mid-Purge, which helps fill out the franchise’s universe- viewers learn more about the political motivations behind the enacting of the Purge, and some of the imagery from Purge Night is genuinely haunting. But the film, to its detriment, still leans heavily on tropes like the Crusading Widower for characterization.
And even a scene backed by a fever dream-y Miley Cyrus remix is not enough to redeem The Purge: Election Year. Though it attempts to finally go all-in on the political side of the Purge, the explanations it gives viewers are too flimsy to offer any truly biting jabs at our current political climate. When The Purge came out in 2013, the idea of the first Purge happening in 2017 seemed cartoonish. Now, the setting isn’t quite a prescient touch, but it’s definitely a lot less amusing.
The fourth installment in the Purge series, The Purge: The Island is set to be released on July 4, 2018. Platinum Dunes partners including Michael Bay and Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions are all slated to produce the film, and series creator James Demonaco is currently working on the script. According to Demonaco, this film will chronicle the first-ever Purge, take place on Staten Island, and delve even further into the political implications and origins of the Purge.
So why think about a reboot this still-living series? Although Gerard McMurray, who will direct The Purge: The Island, will provide a fresh perspective on the series, Demonaco and the attached producers were all involved in very similar capacities throughout the first three movies. This means that despite the prequel element of this movie, its tone and depth are unlikely to diverge from where the last movie left off.
But the Purge deserves more than that, and horror fanatics deserve more from the Purge series. It is a smart, easily adaptable framework for telling both stories that fit squarely into the boundaries of conventional horror or stories that bend the genre. In the hands of the right people, The Purge could achieve a Mad Max: Fury Road-level of reboot success.
Rick and Morty episode “Look Who’s Purging Now” is a prime example of the Purge’s potential. Rick and Morty slash their way through an alien planet’s iteration of the ritual in one of the second season’s more memorable arcs. Viewers got an unblinking look of all of the rage and resentment locked inside of Morty, because that’s the entire premise of the Purge: it’s supposed to cater to the fundamental human need for release.
A directorial change in the Purge reboot process would make a tremendous difference. Park Chan-Wook at the helm, for instance, could bring nuance to a Purge-centric revenge tale, with a sense of humor to boot. Imagine following a bumbling husband’s attempt to rescue his wife from a roving band of thrill killers, his clumsy but dogged recon work causing the body count to steadily rise in his wake. Somebody call Song Kang-ho!
Or, if we were very lucky, Guillermo del Toro could take the Purge decades into the future, when some kind of Purge-related nuclear accident has turned the American landscape into a more (dare I say it) steampunk-reminiscent arena. Picture a moody, atmospheric take on a young orphan girl’s struggle to survive Purge night with the help of a preternaturally intelligent cat.
Hell, anybody who’d be willing to go balls-to-the-wall on the exact parameters of the Purge universe could take a shot. The original series left this reporter with some burning questions that demand answers: is identity theft legal during the Purge? Cyber-crime in general? How would the vacation industry change if the Purge was implemented? The porn industry?
The narrative possibilities are only limited by a 12-hour window. Just like on Purge Night, anything else goes.
So be sure to watch The Purge: The Island meet, subvert, or fall short of expectations starting July 4, 2018, in theaters everywhere.
If you liked this article, check out this video about an Evil Morty fan theory on Rick and Morty that seems very likely.