The First Purge is the latest film in the Purge series; set as a prequel to the previous 3 films; explaining how the day came to be. The main plot revolves around a group of Station Island residence and their struggles throughout Purge night. To phrase it very simply it’s more of the same. The story itself doesn’t really add anything new to the mix, except showing us the scientist behind the Purge. Said scientist, May Updale to be specific, is played by Marisa Tomei in a few brief scenes. The greatest positive for this film is it’s cast. Y’Lan Noel who plays the main protagonist Dimitri is fantastic and incredibly believable; with his Die Hard esque action sequence in the films third act being a true highlight of the film. Another great performance comes from Rotimi Paul as Skeletor, another truly memorable villain to add to the series pantheon. However, aside from these two instantly memorable characters, the rest are a mixture of bland, cliched and underused. The cast feels bloated, and as a result, most of the characters are left shallow and unexplored. In terms of the horror this film does have some great moments, being both incredibly tense and very unexpected, however, these moments are few and far between. Out of the series so far this is probably the least scary. This instalment also suffers from a tonal disconnect, with the film fluctuating between elements of horror and comedy, with the result being a film that has an identity crisis; this is a familiar problem to the series. Another thing that’s worth noting is this film is very heavy handed on the social commentary; in my opinion, losing all subtly. Social commentary has been a good thing for the series in previous instalments, as it has allowed the series to explore some interesting ideas; however, this film is the step too far. This film does have many positive elements about it but is in my opinion representative of a decline in the series, with a parallel being drawn between it and the later Saw films. To conclude whilst this is a weaker instalment in the series, The First Purge is still enjoyable, it is still able to supply you with to get your horror fix. As such I would recommend it to any genre or series fans.
Reviewed by Luke