The First Purge (2018) Review

Updated on July 4, 2018
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at God Hates Geeks, Slickster Magazine, and What Culture.

The final one-sheet theatrical poster for, "The First Purge."
The final one-sheet theatrical poster for, "The First Purge."

Drug Dealers to the Rescue!

It’s kind of amusing to see James DeMonaco, writer and director of every film in The Purge franchise to date, allow someone else to step in as the director of The First Purge as DeMonaco only wrote and produced the prequel. Directed by the relatively unknown Gerard McMurray (associate producer of Fruitvale Station), The First Purge details the events of how the purge came to be. The nation has become overpopulated and the government is trying to figure out a way to thin out the masses. The purge is introduced and the government takes drastic measures to make sure that the purge is a successful experiment. The funny aspect of DeMonaco taking a lesser role for The First Purge is that the prequel takes place in Staten Island, New York and DeMonaco is currently filming Once Upon a Time in Staten Island, which co-stars Frank Grillo who starred in The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year.

The First Purge is built around Nya (Lex Scott Davis, Superfly) and her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade, Doctor Who). Nya leads protests against participating in the purge while Isaiah secretly wants to purge to save face after embarrassing himself while selling drugs without his sister’s knowledge. The siblings live in a rundown apartment and struggle to make ends meet. Isaiah sells drugs for Nya’s ex-boyfriend and Staten Island’s biggest drug lord Dmitri (Y’Lan Noel), but is humiliated by a psychotic drug fiend known as Skeletor (Rotimi Paul, Sleepy Hollow). The government is offering financial compensation for simply staying home during the purge, but there are also bonuses for participating. Nya wants to save as many people as possible, Isaiah wants revenge against Skeletor, and Dmitri wants his business to stay afloat.

The government now rests in the hands of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA). Arlo Sabian (Patch Sabbagh, Everything Sucks!), the Chief of Staff, supervises all activity during the purge. Those who signed up to receive financial compensation were given a pair of contacts that record everything on the night of the purge. The entire concept was designed by an architect named Dr. Updale (Marisa Tomei), whose only personality trait is drinking coffee and denying political involvement; this is a science experiment and nothing more.

Another funny little side note is that they managed to squeeze in a poster for the upcoming Halloween reboot due in theaters in October, which is also a Blumhouse film. The First Purge is loaded with a cast that no one has ever seen or heard of, so this back story revolves around characters that you don’t care about. Nobody returns from the previous films and these new characters are so lifeless that you’re practically begging for the killing to begin so the numbers of these boring turds actually begin to dwindle. The film attempts to throw in a sassy character named Dolores (Mugga, Orange is the New Black), who is only around to spew one-liners about boring sermons, stealing booze, and having, “the bubble guts,” dribble in her pants at the worst possible time. Performances are lame and forgetful at best with Rotimi Paul’s Skeletor being the most memorable for all the wrong reasons. Paul’s insistence to go back and forth between a deep voiced growl and high pitched squeal whenever he speaks is annoying. The Skeletor character arc is as erratic as the character as it literally goes nowhere.

Joivan Wade and Lex Scott Davis as Isaiah and Nya in, "The First Purge."
Joivan Wade and Lex Scott Davis as Isaiah and Nya in, "The First Purge."

The dystopian action horror prequel seems to glorify drug dealers. Dmitri and his crew suddenly become the heroes of the film solely because a greedy drug lord doesn’t know how to stop being in love with an ex-girlfriend. The most loyal individuals in the film are the supposed, “family,” that Dmitri pays. Despite every crime being legal for 12 consecutive hours, individuals still wear masks or hide their faces in some way. The film attempts to add another element to this with a half-cocked twist that involves the government taking matters into their own hands to make the purge a success. The film sees it as an opportunity to cram some racist imagery into its story for no reason whatsoever. Some of the costumes worn in the film resemble SS officers and there is literally a truckload of purging participants dressed as the KKK. These individuals are only introduced for our drug dealing heroes to wipe out later and seem more heroic in the process.

The only reason to see a Purge film is for the kills and the violence and The First Purge lacks any originality or creativity when it comes to those aspects. The most impressive action sequence is a Dmitri fight in a stairwell that seems second or third rate when compared to the stairwell sequence in Daredevil. Everything else resorts to CGI blood splatters. The film attempts to be about a community coming together at the worst of times despite their financial status. The purge is supposedly a freeing violence that is for the good of our country; an effort to fix how broken society has become. However what we get is a ruffian in a sewer drain with a crying baby doll head in his mouth targeting Nya’s genitalia, two siblings who get matching neck wounds, a drug dealer fighting off two rabid prostitutes, and a syringe obsessed lunatic who gets more than a little stabby at raves.

Mo McRae and Y'Lan Noel as 7 & 7 and Dmitri in, "The First Purge."
Mo McRae and Y'Lan Noel as 7 & 7 and Dmitri in, "The First Purge."

The First Purge is a stale and redundant entry in a franchise that has overstayed its welcome. It will feel even less relevant once the 10-episode television series begins on September 4th, which takes place ten years after the first purge and will air on USA and SyFy. If there was an option to purge yourself over any more entries in this franchise, then it would quite possibly end up being a fate that is less painful than a mediocre action horror franchise that refuses to die. Overwhelmed with bad performances, a predictable story, and run-of-the-mill violence, The First Purge adds nothing to a franchise that originally had some potential and talent.

1 star for The First Purge (2018)

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Chris Sawin

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)