The third installment in what is now The Purge Trilogy, The Purge: Election Year, is perhaps the best political, social commentary satire dissecting American culture that we have seen in quite some time. In fact, the same can be said about all three of the films which were all written and directed by James DeMonaco. No other American film that I can recall can accurately depict what is currently happening in America at the current moment, particularly the current 2016 political climate.
By utilizing the social science fiction dystopian formula, DeMonaco shows us his interpretation of the America of the past few years. The idea of an actual, annual purge where people can release their anger, hatred and murder on one another for twelve hours on a certain night can be absurd to many, but the theory as to why the purge was created as explained in the third Purge film is somewhat terrifyingly true.
In the style of 1970’s B-Movies and even reminiscent of the early films of John Carpenter, particularly Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York, DeMonaco exposes the America that glorifies violence, hatred, racism and discrimination perpetuated by whites against blacks and latinos, class warfare, the rich vs the poor, corrupt government and government officials, as well as religious fanaticism that disguises violence, fear and hatred in the form of scripture and sermon. All of these negative aspects about America can not only be seen and found in the films, but also on the usual local evening news. The reason for that is because what we see in the films is actually happening. DeMonaco brilliantly turned his cultural knowledge and awareness into brilliant social commentaries and the films are self reflections of America.
Although the first two Purge films deal with all of the social commentary that DeMonaco displays, The Purge: Election Year is the most subversive, in your face and overtly political. It’s no surprise that the concept of election year was chosen as the premise which was originally rumored. In The Purge: Election Year, the political, tyrannical establishment and the purge itself is under threat from a female presidential candidate by the name of Charlie Roan, played by Elizabeth Mitchell, as she promises to eliminate the purge altogether if elected president. Seeing her family killed and surviving a purge night 18 years prior to the events of the election year, Roan says enough is enough and wants to bring an end to the purge. The elite and corrupt government officials who support the purge are no fan of Roan’s anti-purge rhetoric. As a result, they plan on assassination attempt on Roan. The New Founding Fathers of America, or NFFA, explain that the purge has contributed to the prosperity and economic wealth in America. The people, however, are no fools anymore and know exactly why the purge exists. The purge exists to eliminate the poor, usually minorities and the homeless so that they won’t continue being a drag and dependent upon the rich. Sound familiar? Say what you will, but several thoughts come to mind such as some conspiracy theories (are they really?) about government made diseases created for population control to wipe out certain ethnic, racial groups.
What makes The Purge: Election Year work is that it brings all of the social commentary elements and satire of the first two films and explicitly and subversively reveals itself as a critique on modern American culture. Some say the films are mere anti-American propaganda. I, on the other hand, don’t view The Purge films as being anti-American propaganda. To me the films are meant to be satirical and are a critique on modern American culture. We must remember, though, that even though DeMonaco is trying to make a statement with The Purge films, the films also have entertainment value.