Review: The Purge – Election Year

The Purge: Election Year is a decent sequel to Anarchy in 2014, I got exactly what I have come to expect from a franchise trying to buck the trend.

Leo Barnes, survivor and rebel against The Purge, is chief bodyguard of a senator who wishes to win the election so she can end The Purge and recover America’s sanity. But when some of her trusted members turn on her and let a mercenary group of Neo-Nazis hunt her down, Leo is about to face his hardest fight yet.

You can see from my reviews of 2013’s The Purge and 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy, I have something of a soft-spot for the franchise. The first film is garbage, possibly one of the worst films of that year, but the franchise’s premise is very strong. Anarchy was a vast improvement and actually showed this unpleasant (and somehow believable!) future could be.
I am happy to say that Election Year continues Anarchy‘s sense of style, with returning director James DeMonaco, leaving their predecessor forgotten in the dust.

But it isn’t without problems. Even now, sitting to write this review, I realise that Frank (Captain America: Civil War) Grillo’s character has a name now, and as a sort of vigilante he suddenly becomes a trusted bodyguard here. That aside, the film does take some typical slasher liberties too. Like how all of Leo’s aids are traitors, forcing him and senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) out into the chaotic streets. Or the happenstance that a rogue outfit can drive around as medical assistance without being attacked. What? This particular Purge allowing anyone, even Government officials, to be targeted, yet the swelling masses of crazies and psychos kindly let them go on their way?
Yeah, I believe that…
There seems to be less reliance on gore and butchery in this film; Anarchy felt far more intimidating and disturbing. Election Year is far more concerned in delivering political subtext and clout to proceedings, which is welcome; Anarchy’s hinting at the Purge being used as a means of population control over the lower classes is fully realised here. But I do think that horror fans will be disappointed; I saw greater moments of gore and unpleasantness from this year’s The Shallows and Green Room.

There are three groups of heroes: Leo and senator Roan; a deli owner and his assistant (who may have stolen the show as the every man trying to preserve his livelihood) and their friends who drive the aforementioned medical van. They all give good performances despite some of the plot’s less forgivable conveniences. The main villains, a Neo-Nazi mercenary group, are less interesting than the often incredibly designed crazies (see the poster!) that populated the previous movie.

It was exactly what I expected and didn’t disappoint. The horror fans might be disappointed in the lack of truly gruesome scenes, which does let it down a little in my opinion. I’d say Anarchy is the better Purge movie, but Election Year is a sequel that follows it well.



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