July 20, 2016

Theatrical Review: The Purge: Election Year (2016)

"Election Year is almost as good as Anarchy."

(aka America Death Night 3.)
Release Date: July 1st.
Country: USA.
Rating: R.
Written by: James DeMonaco.
Directed by: James DeMonaco.
Starring: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, and Betty Gabriel.

As much as we didn't like the first Purge movie (review HERE), we absolutely loved the hell out of The Purge Anarchy (review HERE). It was Frank Grillo's presence (and a way better story) that made us like the sequel so much, and so when it was announced that Grillo would be returning to the world of The Purge for Election Year, we were immediately on-board.

Since it's release, The Purge: Election Year has made around $72 million on a $10 million budget, making it the most financially successful entry in the series, at least domestically... so it appears that we weren't alone in our love for the 2nd movie, and, as it turns out, the 3rd.

Set two years after the events of The Purge: Anarchy, we find that Leo Barnes is now head of security for a radical Senator, Charlie Roan, who is running for President. We say radical because she's campaigning on the idea that The Purge is an abomination, and the promise that the first thing she'll do when elected, is end it. She watched her family being executed on Purge Night 18-years earlier, so her hate is understandable.

Needless to say, the New Founding Fathers of America don't take kindly to this, and decide to have her killed. With Leo Barnes watching over her though, the NFFA is going to have a hard time getting to her, because he's a bad-ass. Of course there's also a nation full of bloodthirsty Purgers out there who want to kill them too, so a little help would be nice. Luckily for them both that they run into another bad-ass named Laney Rucker (the girl can ball), and a couple of other dudes from around the way, so the odds, while still hopeless, are at least a little better.

Blood and mayhem ensue.

Some people took issue with the direction that the Purge series took with this 3rd installment, but even though we would have liked to have seen a prequel that focused on Frank Grillo's pre-Purge 2, or even a story that focused on Bishop's gang, we found Election Year to be a fun ride, and liked it almost as much as we did the 2nd movie.

In a year where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are turning the race for President into a farce, The Purge: Election Year also feels timely and relevant. It also feels like a cheap cash-in on the political bullshit that we have to see on the news every night, but it does make a statement. On a more serious note, the way that things are going in the U.S. right now with so many shootings of both citizens and Police, it feels even more relevant, and in a genuinely scary way; sometimes it really feels like we're heading for a Purge-like situation, where people indiscriminately gun each other down in the street because they're angry, feel alienated, or are just plain crazy. It won't come to that, not really, but it sure does feel more possible than ever now, and this movie is a grim reminder of what that world just might look like.

The cast is strong in this one, with Frank Grillo (who is always awesome), Mykelti Williamson (he was our fave), and Betty Gabriel (whose Laney Rucker was all kinds of bad-ass) giving us real characters that we cared about, and wanted to see survive Purge Night. Elizabeth Mitchell was solid here too, although her character didn't do as much for us as we expected.  

The main issue that we had with this movie is that it focused way too much on Elizabeth Mitchell's character. I'm a huge fan of Mitchell's, but her character felt more like a caricature here than a person who evoked emotion from me; I cared far more about Frank Grillo's character keeping her alive because of what it meant to him, than about her surviving.

It's not the biggest gripe in the world, but the story in the 2nd movie just felt more dire to us, and less like some sort of political statement like it does here.

It also really sucked how they built Dante Bishop up throughout the first two movies, and then kind of gave him a disposable storyline.

Sticking with the point above, this sequel didn't give us enough of the crazy, creepy, street-sweeping murderers that made the 2nd one so much fun. They were there, but they just didn't seem like as much of a threat as the Government did in this one, which I suppose was the point, but it made the movie a little less fun.

The "I want my candy bar" gang was too over-the-top and cheesy for our tastes, and they barely showed the awesome masked purgers from the posters at all. Gah!

There's plenty of bloody violence in this one, because it's Purge Night! Guns, knives, baseball bats, vehicles, fire, hanging... the kill methods are varied.


"Good night, blue cheese" or "There are a whole bunch of Negros coming this way, and we're looking like a big ol' bucket of fried chicken."

Mykelti Williamson owned this movie, character and dialogue-wise.

A solid sequel, The Purge: Election Year may not have been quite as good as the 2nd movie was, but it was close. Great characters, all kinds of bloody Purge action, and plenty of Political commentary, this was a perfect ending to the series... until of course The Purge 4 is announced, which it definitely will be.

See it.


The Purge: Election Year is in theaters now.

Elizabeth Mitchell will always be Juliet from LOST to us. Sigh.


  1. I'll be honest, I hate The Purge franchise so, no, this didn't work for me at all. It's barely a Horror film first and foremost. They immediately lost me there. I love to see Mykelti Williamson getting more roles but that's about it. Silly premise to a silly franchise. It's just extending and has exhausted an already thin statement that ultimately results in zero fun and remains a simple tagline of a movie. It also solidifies my modern Horror filmmaker sin #4 - "scary masks" aren't scary anymore. Please stop it (looking at you upcoming Rob Zombie "31")

    1. I usually don'tlike flicks like this (hated the first Purge), but to be honest, Frank Grillo made it legit for us.

      If you have a minute, check out the TV show he's on called Kingdom. It's solid.

    2. Well....... OK, so movies like 'The Strangers' started this mask thing. However, those were the cheap plastic kind, which had a string to hold them on. Other movies have since redone this to death. But in movies like Purge series they are like custom homemade things of beauty. They actually have creativity invested in them(ala BearPIG). I don't count them on the same level at all. In The Purge universe, people treat it like a holiday, and dress up in more wild ways, trying to one up their fellow purgers.

      People think something like the Purge couldn't happen, so they consider the whole movie stupid. I'm sure it never will, but just think about what people thought was going to happen in today's time. Flying cars, personal rocket ships to the moon, holographic movies, etc... People back in the 70's and even 80's thought that there would NEVER be nudity in movies and TV. That's just a small example of how things are now than what was imagined.

    3. Hey, what's this imagine to the left of my post 'Wait... You wanna see what???' from?

    4. Some movie called Locked in a Garage Band. It's full of some great reaction pics :)

    5. I stipulated "modern" horror masks in my comment because some of the most iconic horror villains are because of the masks, obviously. The strangers is a great example because I feel that was the last film to do it right until it became cliche and a joke. If your film thinks it's scary because of masks you have a lot of problems. The purge could never happen, but that doesn't matter, Nightmare on elm Street could never happen either but the first film had atmosphere and was creative. The purge franchise is a mix of all that is bad with horror filmmaking (and I liked the second one) and this one isn't even a horror film so I was highly disappointed. Might has been been called The Purge: Suicide Squad

    6. "and this one isn't even a horror film so I was highly disappointed."

      Um, it is most def a horror film:
      "Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle their readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror is frequently supernatural, though it can be non-supernatural. Often the central menace of a work of horror fiction can be interpreted as a metaphor for the larger fears of a society."

      Note the last part of the definition, "larger fears of a society", which is exactly what many people in America do actually have a fear of. They fear that 'Big Brother' is going to shred the Constitution and take away the rights of it's citizens, just as are depicted in 'Purge'. Look at what has actually happened that we know about already, how they were tapping into our cell phones. Now I am not a conspiracy wacko building a safe room and filling it with guns and food but a growing part of our culture is heading this way. Turn on any TV in America and you will have about 20 or so 24/7 news channels all promoting constant fear. You have people committing mass murder on a regular basis, you have cops just killing people for no good reason. It doesn't matter that something like the Purge could ever happen, you should worry about the worse alternative: Unregulated lynch mobs.
      I'm all about free speech but if people don't stop watching the news we are going to have a bunch of Americans on edge and with more guns and more killings.

      Okay, so I'm a bit off the subject of the movie, but I'm trying to make a point of the fact that according to any news channel we are basically living in a horror movie.

      Back to the other point you made, that it's "bad filmmaking". Now people can have opinions and one persons masterpiece can be another's garbage, but all of the 3 'Purge' movies were well made technically speaking. They all had great actors, great cinematography, and direction. If you didn't like the storyline that's fine, but that doesn't make it a bad movie, just a bad movie in your own opinion.
      Are there scenes that could have been cut? J.S. mentioned the 4 girls that came back to "get her candy bar" as being over the top. Now I agree that it could have been written a little better or downplayed perhaps. But one scene a bad movie does not make. Ever great movie has it's flaws.

      About the masks, I think you are referring to movies like "You're Next" in copying the 'mask' trope to death. But really, should they have just worn ski masks??
      Well I hate to burst your bubble, but sinister looking masks in movies like 'Strangers' and 'You're next' have been in movies LONG before they were even thought of by their creators. Movies like "Fortress"(1985) had bad guys using them, and I'm sure that somewhere there are even earlier examples(and I am not talking about slasher movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th, since both Strangers and You're Next are NOT slasher movies)in crime style movies.
      And I know you said "the LAST one to get it right", in reference to possible earlier movies using masks, but if you ask anyone who is not born in 1975 like me, but 1985 or even 1990ish, then I guarantee that 'The Strangers' will be the first and possible only modern horror to use masks. But really your use f the word modern isn't even correct since even movies like Halloween are modern horror movies, since horror movies have made since about 1896, so I think you mean to say contemporary horror.

    7. Hey, thanks for the definition of Horror!

  2. I just don't like the political aspect of the movies.

    1. Completelyunderstandable. Too much of that going on in the world today.

    2. Hey j.s., have you ever reviewed the last will and testament of Rosalind Leigh? I read every review yup put out and I must say your always spot on how I feel. When you get a chance check out that movie. Very creepy and unexplainable. And the special effects were very bizarre

  3. Way back in the 70's and 80's? Oy veh!

    1. Hey, when Poison is considdered Classic Rock, it's way back! :)

    2. Haha, yeah, makes me feel real old, J.S.!