The Purge: Election Year (2016)

James DeMonaco’s second sequel to the exploitative and silly “The Purge” series reaches the masses in a very politically fueled year, and while DeMonaco and Blumhouse have the advantage of very much satirizing the current political climate, “Election Year” just continues the same routine we’ve seen with this movie series so far. It’s a lot of the same where there is an opportunity to offer a scary dark satire of America, but it backs off in favor of a lot of goofy plot twists and meandering sub-plots. Once again the annual the Purge is about to commence where every year for one night there is no such thing as law. So you can murder as you please, rape as you please, pillage, plunder, take a penny without leaving a penny, pick at a buffet without the sneeze guard, leave your trash with the recyclables included, walk on the grass, loiter like hell for hours on end, the sky is the limit.

Director DeMonaco focuses on the vicious election with recurring hero Leo, as played by Frank Grillo, now hired to protect Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell). With the election coming to a peak, Leo is hell bent on protecting Roan and ensuring she can win the election. But when her security team is infiltrated by hardcore followers of her rival Earl Danzinger, Leo and Charlie are forced in to fleeing in the middle of the Purge where everyone is out for a campaign of violence. As always “The Purge” is so much more interesting and entertaining when the writers focus on the lower class and the disadvantages they’re handed while wealthier individuals are allowed to fortify themselves. The most compelling moments involves Mykelti Williamson as a bodega owner forced to protect his store with his assistant Marcos after his “Purge” insurance is cancelled.

I also enjoyed his relationship with friend Marcos, an illegal immigrant devoted to his friend who gave him a chance to make good in a country he still believes in. DeMonaco and the writers build the world of The Purge even more, always highlighting the insanity but still not completely convincing us that something like this could happen in an alternate reality. There are a ton of unique bends on the concept with most of the environment of the Purge consisting of White purgers preying on minority and homeless purgers, all the while there’s the introduction of tourist purgers. These are sadistic individuals from other countries coming to America to murder for one night. So is there a special precaution or waiting period to purge, or can people venture in and out of America to indulge in the Purge?

And does America suffer backlash from other countries for this annual circus of violence? Is there a constant threat of war? Are there post-Purge sales at local discount outlets and fast food restaurants? It’s too bad the writers never took advantage of certain plot elements, but “The Purge: Election Year” at least continues the fun but dumb horror series with some interesting gimmicks and world building for future films. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but I enjoyed the chaos and surface social commentary. With a TV series coming up, I’m genuinely interested to see how they’ll build characters within a world where for one night you’re either hunter or prey.