A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Purge: Election Year is the third in the series (after The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy). Like the others, it's extremely gory and violent (though perhaps slightly less so): There's guns and shooting, spurting blood, dead bodies, car crashes, and a man digging a bullet out of his shoulder. A character is beheaded via guillotine, and people are hanged in a tree. Language is also very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "c--t," "p---y," and more. There's some incidental drinking, and teen girls are shown wearing lingerie, with the camera "looking" them up and down, objectifying them. Like the other Purge movies, this one offers a pretty shallow take on an interesting idea, and though it switches from psychological themes to political ones, it doesn't get any deeper. Nevertheless, the movie could get older teens discussing the ideals and actions of the "left" vs. the "right."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Having survived The Purge: Anarchy, the tough guy known only as "sergeant" (Frank Grillo) is back for THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR. He's now working as head of security for Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who's running for president with the promise that she'll shut down the "purge" (i.e. an annual 12-hour period in which all crime is legal). Of course everything goes wrong, and the established "New Founding Fathers" come after both her and the sergeant. Joe (Mykelti Williamson), the proud but struggling owner of a convenience store, and his two hard-luck-case helpers, Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and Laney (Betty Gabriel), happen to be on hand and agree to help. But no one is prepared for what the powerful politicians have in mind for that night.
Is it any good?
When The Purge movies started, they played vaguely with psychological ideas; this time around, the themes have turned political, but irritatingly simplistic. Poor filmmaking choices don't help. Writer/director James DeMonaco may have raised some viewers' hopes by featuring a female senator running for president, but while Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is idealistic, she has little more to say than "the purge is bad" and that it targets the lower class. Then, oddly, The Purge: Election Year shows mainly these same people participating in the purge.
In essence, DeMonaco's so-called political satire and political statements are shallow and unsupported and aren't really any different than any social media rant. And on the technical side, DeMonaco doesn't seem to have learned anything after making the two previous films. The acting is overcooked, and the camerawork and editing are atrocious, resulting in a jerky, wretched-looking film that makes you want to bathe afterward.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Purge: Election Year's violence. What point is it trying to make? Does the movie celebrate or condemn violence? How does it make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How would you describe the movie's political position? What do the two opposing political forces want? How do these ideas/themes apply to real life?
What's the movie's stance on the concept of "the purge"? What are the arguments for or against it?
Is the movie scary? Is the scary stuff supernatural or based on real life? What's the appeal of horror movies?
- In theaters: July 1, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 4, 2016
- Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson
- Director: James DeMonaco
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing bloody violence and strong language
- Last updated: February 10, 2020
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