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Film: The Purge
Survive the night.

The Purge is a 2013 film directed and written by James DeMonaco.

Twenty Minutes into the Future the US government has set up a once-a-year event named The Purge, in which people are free to commit whatever crimes they want for 12 hours. James Sandin, a well-to-do businessman who sells home security systems for people to protect themselves from the Purge, settles himself, his wife and his two children in for the night, arming the house and protecting it from any invaders...

... Until a beaten-up stranger comes running down the street begging for help. After attempting to ignore him, one of the Sandin kids shuts down the security system long enough to let the stranger in. A gang of mask-wearing goons quickly arrives at the house, demanding the Sandins turn the stranger over, or they'll break in and kill everyone, including the stranger.

The Purge has been described as "half social allegory, half home-invasion thriller." It explores the morality of human nature in a world where murder is seemingly condoned by not only the law, but the majority of its citizens as well; a disturbing, very dark take on the future. The Purge itself is treated as less of a necessary evil and more of a holiday.

A sequel, known as The Purge: Anarchy, is set for release on July 18, 2014. It follows several people, including two teenagers as they are caught outside during the Purge when their car breaks down, and a man using the Purge as a chance to pursue revenge.

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     First Film 
  • Aborted Arc: Zoey's boyfriend motivation to try to kill her father and the aftermath of this event are quickly forgotten by the other family members and them by Zoey herself. But it's understandable, since they all have bigger problems to deal with.
  • Adult Fear: The Sandin parents have a lot to be worried about, because they're trying to set a good example for their kids by doing nothing bad during the Purge (while simultaneously reassuring them that the Purge is a good thing, and that they could participate if they wished to). That doesn't even touch on the fact that one of their kids lets in a stranger because he looked like he needed help or that a psychopathic gang is quite willing to launch a home invasion and kill everyone in it...
  • Affably Evil: The gang leader who is even listed as Polite Leader.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • The invaders brought a fair number of axes with them. Later, James uses an axe to kill one of the invaders.
    • Just prior to the Purge, a neighbor is seen casually grinding a machete in his backyard.
  • Arc Words: "Release the beast."
  • Artistic License - Economics: There's no reason why the Purge would fix the economy or reduce the overall amount of crime. In fact, the stated one percent level of unemployment signifies a stagnating rather than booming economy. There would still be demand for employees, but very low supply, which drives wages up when businesses compete for employees, and then they are forced to raise prices of whatever they produce to pay these wages.
    • And this is further exacerbated by the fact the unemployed have a higher chance of dying during the purge itself.
    • As pointed by "Movie Bob" of the Escapist, the only businesses that could afford to defend themselves against the hordes of looters on that one night, would be the giant corporations. Everyone else will have to pray and hope for the best.
    • The elderly would be quite vulnerable, which in turn could have negative effects on their incentives to save. Why save your money, when someone could potentially knock you off before you enjoy retirement. On the other hand, the government would save a huge amount on retirement and medical care.
    • So would the government. Once the vunerable realise that their own government has practically condemned them to death - or worse - there'd be no incentive not to use the purge as a reason to rise up against the government. Even if the main centres of power are protected, a lot of people with nothing to lose could cause untold damage to the country.
  • Ax-Crazy: All of the gang, but the women seem especially psychotic, with one of them tickling a pinned-down Mary moments before trying to slice her open with a machete.
  • Bad Ass: James, big time! He's the sole reason the rest of his family did NOT get murdered. Why? Because he killed almost all the would-be murderer gang except for their boss.
    • It is not too far off to call him the secondary security system of the Sandins
  • Bad Boss: The gang leader kills one of his own for being rude.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The stranger repays the family's decision to spare him by saving their lives at the end of the film.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The gang, Henry, and the neighbors.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Given that live Purge feeds are apparently ubiquitous, it would seem there are a truly absurd number of cameras all across the United States. Furthermore, there are loudspeakers which broadcast the beginning of the Purge, in addition to Emergency Broadcast Services issuing a statement across radio and television.
  • Big Damn Heroes: James gunning down an intruder before said intruder kills his son, Zoey saving her mother and brother from the gang leader and the homeless man saving the family from their neighbors.
    • The neighbors. Sort of.
  • Bigger Bad: The New Founding Fathers.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: One of the invaders follows Mary around for what has to be a good ten minutes or so, despite having a gun and the element of surprise. He doesn't even bother trying; Mary ends up running into another psycho later.
  • Broken Aesop: The overall story is about the "haves" getting to kill the "have-nots", in an attempt to relate to current movements like "Occupy Wall Street". In the end, the movie is about a bunch of greedy people barging into a place where they are not wanted, attacking a (mostly) peaceful rich family because they are jealous of what they have. Ummmm...
  • Bystander Syndrome: A man is running through the suburbs begging for help because a gang is after him. Mary Sandin isn't bothered by it, while James Sandin looks like he wishes he could help but he can't. The minute one of their kids lets him in is the minute it becomes their problem.
  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: The Sandins think themselves safe when the gang threatens to invade, but James is forced to admit that the system was never designed to ward off such determined invaders and goes on to rattle off a series of vulnerabilities the security system has.
    • Ultimately, the plating comes off with a single good yank by an ordinary truck. Several vulnerabilities indeed.
  • Catharsis Factor: In-universe, the government instituted the event named the Purge for this reason.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: The Sandins are rescued by their neighbors. Problem is, they only did it because they want to kill the Sandins personally.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The USA in this film is portrayed as this, because everything is all well and good... except for the 12 hours of the Purge.
    • One of the most disturbing aspects of the movie is how casually the Purge, a government-sanctioned mass murder, is treated by the people. Early on in the movie, Grace gossips with Mary about the neighbors and gives her a batch of cookies she baked as the neighbors come up and ask Mary how she's spending her Purge night. At the same time, James casually discusses how effective the security system he sold another neighbor will be at keeping out murderers while said neighbor is walking his dog.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Charlie tinkers with unusual gadgets, spends his time in crawl spaces, and checks his vitals at the dinner table. These behaviors are never explained.
  • Combat Pragmatist: At one point, James smashes a billiard ball into the head of one of the attackers because it's the only weapon within reach. A couple of minutes later, he grabs an axe from another attacker and turns it against him.
  • Creepy Child: Charlie comes over as this, especially when asking why his parents don't go out and kill people. It certainly isn't helped by his closet space full of crazy which features several drawings of people dying and PURGE written in blood-red letters. Then there's "Timmy", a cyborg doll baby attached to a tank base and fitted with a camera. Charlie didn't make much effort to fix the damage he caused filling it with that stuff.
    • Ends up being subverted when he turns out to be the only family member willing to let a stranger in.
  • Creepy Doll: Timmy
  • Deal with the Devil: This Trope applies to the entire Society.
  • Death by Sex: Subverted for Henry. He is implied to have had sex with Zoey at the start of The Purge. After this, he wants to meet her father to discuss the relationship. It turns out that he actually wanted to kill his girlfriend's father. And it epicly backfires so hard on Henry at the cost of his life.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Henry's attempt at using The Purge to "remove" his lover's disapproving father from the equation. If he's successful, does he really think his girlfriend will forgive such a thing? Or that her mother will allow him to walk away unharmed after killing her husband? Did he intend on killing her too if she interfered? There's basically no way he remains her boyfriend if he goes through with this. Henry fails to consider her father would be armed and worse still, willingly forgoes the element of surprise. His spectacular failure ends with him killed by his intended target.
  • Disproportionate Retribution The neighbors want to kill the Sandins because they remodeled their house ostentatiously using the money James earned from selling them his security system. And just in case you thought they might be pissed by its failure later on, it's made clear they resent them for it before the Purge even starts.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The movie can be read, as in this article for example, as turning certain elements of libertarian / modern conservative ideology Up to Eleven (particularly the 'every man for himself' aspects) and seeing what the consequences would be if they were actually applied. Certainly, the fact that the main bad guys are a gang of preppy Young Republican types and their victim is a homeless black war veteran presumably isn't accidental.
    • Also, the neighbors want to kill people who're richer than them. And Word of God says it is intentional.
  • Downer Ending: Most of the family lives, but they're traumatized from what happened and probably won't be the same again, plus they have nobody to trust in their neighborhood after their neighbors tried to kill them. The ending rubs it in deeper by having news reports declaring it to be the most "successful" Purge yet, and that it will continue again next year.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The announcement made by the government to the people about the Purge makes it sound like it's just a minor, adjust-your-clock event. This contrasts starkly with the home invasion that occurs later on.
  • Epic Fail: Henry is quickly killed by his intended target in front of his girlfriend. After going out of his way to warn him no less.
  • Expy: The "Polite Leader" is one of Alexander Delarge; an impish, almost adorable little boy with exasperatingly good manners and eloquent vocabulary that would make Shakespeare proud, and a penchant for murder vandalism and even rape while wearing a mask and an angelic smile.
  • False Utopia: The movie is set around an US that is well-recovered... but centered around the question "What if the US government created a once-a-year 12-hour event called The Purge, which allows people to do whatever they want?"
  • Evil Is Hammy: The leader of the gang, described as "a cartoon fascist with all the nuance of an Adam West-era Batman villain."
  • Fictional Political Party: The annual "Purge Night" holiday was established after the rise of a political party calling itself "The New Founders of America", or NFA for short.
  • Follow the Leader: The film is quite comparable to The Strangers, Ils and Vacancy.
  • From Bad to Worse: Everything started out normally for the Sandins. Then a stranger on the run ends up in their home. Finally, the psychopathic gang chasing after the stranger decides to invade their home...
  • Giggling Villain: One of the female intruders is almost always giggling.
  • Good Is Dumb: Charlie. At least it turns out that the man he has saved is really not a bad guy. So he had a point. Small consolation considering the outcome for his family.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted. The male gang members wield guns while the females use machetes and axes.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Part of why the neighbors are willing to murder the Sandins.
  • Harmful to Minors: Having kids exposed to something like the Purge is a bad idea. The Sandin parents try to protect their kids from this, but they fail miserably, because Zoey ends up killing the gang leader to save her family.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Sandins change their minds and decide to fight the gang when they're in the middle of torturing the homeless man when he won't give himself up.
  • Hobbes Was Right: A particularly extreme version: for one night a year, police and emergency services are shut down. So what do people do? Kill each other! Why? Because they can!
  • Hollywood Psych: The point of the Purge is to let people get all of their violence and anger out in a night of catharsis, thereby reducing crime. However, studies have shown that violent catharsis increases aggression, rather than reducing it; if anything, the Purge would increase violent crime rates. One of the few intentional examples since there are some implications that the Purge is ultimately having the opposite effect than the intended one throughout the film.
  • Honor Before Reason: Deconstructed Trope. One of the Sandin kids lets a stranger into their house because he really looks like he is in trouble. As a result of doing the morally right thing, horror ensues.
  • Humans Kill Wantonly: Only during the Purge.
  • I Want Them Alive: The gang leader demands that the homeless man be released alive so that his gang can personally kill him.
  • Idiot Ball: The Sandins decide not to hand over the stranger, but somehow it never occurs to them to ask him for assistance in fighting off the invaders, even though he's already killed at least one of them.
  • Karma Houdini: State-enforced with the Purge, during which almost all crime is sanctioned and emergency services are suspended. There's nothing stopping the Purge from working against the potential Houdinis.
    • The neighbors get off scot-free (save for one killed by the stranger) for trying to kill the Sandins. The leader, Grace, gets some form of karma when she makes one last grab for the shotgun and gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown courtesy of Mary.
      • The New Founding Fathers who started the Purge never paid for the chaos this created and to ensure they get away with it, one of the few rules reads "Government officials of ranking 10 or higher must remain unharmed for the duration of the Purge" meaning that even they can't be Hoist By Their Own Petard.
  • Kill the Poor: This seems to be the true purpose of the Purge, as is speculated by in a news report and put forth by the gang that hunts "homeless swine".
  • Malevolent Masked Men: AND women, who are ironically the most brutal and sadistic of the gang. They gang wears the masks for psychological effect and to disguise themselves just in case anyone who survives them doesn't try to take revenge on them during the next Purge.
  • Market-Based Title: The film came out under the title "American Nightmare" in France; while in French the word "purge" usually has the same meaning as in English, it is also a familiar word for a painfully bad film (or show, or game). The title change hardly helped, and if anything rather made the joke even more obvious among French critics.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Well, sorta. Henry decides to murder James during the Purge, as James is quite opposed to Henry dating his daughter on account of being older than her (he's said to be 18).
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Letting a man on the run take refuge in your house is a good deed, no question. But when the psychopathic gang chasing after him decide to invade your home...
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: A scene early on in the film demonstrates a gang doing this to a person in a city. The gang that terrorizes the Sandins intends on doing this to them.
    • Also what Mary does to Grace at the end when Grace tries a last-ditch attempt to kill the Sandins.
  • No Name Given: We find out neither the name of the stranger the Sandins saved nor the names of any of the masked gang.
  • Non Action Woman: Mary. Lena Headey, known for playing very badass Mama Bears, plays the Non-Action type for the better part of the movie, until the ending after James had been killed.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Until it happens.
  • Obviously Evil: When a gang comes to your door wearing creepy masks, wielding weapons, and makes it clear that they want to kill one guy and they'll kill anybody who gets in the way, you get this trope.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The neighbours' real incentive for rescuing the Sandins.
  • Open Says Me: The gang breaches the house by using trucks to pry the plating off then breaching the windows and doors with gunfire.
  • Papa Wolf: James, who singlehandedly kills four of the invading gang using a shotgun and an axe.
  • Police Are Useless: Justified Trope. One of the rules behind the Purge is that the police cannot respond to any calls for 12 hours. As a result, if you get into trouble, you're on your own.
  • Power of Trust: Implied at the end since the Sandins now know their neighbors want to kill them due to their wealth.
  • Pretty Little Headshots
  • Properly Paranoid: James chastises his son for letting a stranger, in need of help, inside their house since he suspects someone is after him. He's right.
  • Protect This House: As even with all the security improvements, the Sandin house is still invaded by the masked strangers.
  • The Purge: The trope name and the film's title are the same. The 12-hour event is called The Purge, and the intent behind it is to apparently get rid of the undesirable parts of society.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: To some extent. Part of the Purge conditions restricts weapons above Class 4 and makes government officials rated 10 or higher exempt. The former is probably to avoid too much collateral damage, and the latter, depending on what qualifies one for that rating, may simply be to ensure that there's a functioning government when things cool down. Though the fact they would be otherwise prime targets is a complete coincidence.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Implied; the stranger wears both camo gear and a pair of dog tags.
  • Slasher Smile: The gang leader has a bright and chipper smile the whole time he describes killing the Sandin family.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Used during the opening credits, where patriotic music is played to surveillance footage of past Purges.
    • Also in the trailer, with an a cappella version of "America The Beautiful" playing over clips of the Sandins getting the crap beaten out of them
  • Surprise Creepy: The trailer goes for this effect. It starts out happy and idyllic, but then it shows why that is, and the reason is not a pretty sight.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The gang who comes after the Sandins is in their mid to late teens, with the leader clearly wearing some kind of prep school uniform.
    • Also applies to Henry.
  • Teeth Flying: Mary bashes an evil neighbor in the face for attempting to participate in the Purge minutes before it ends, causing one or more of her teeth to fall out of her mouth.
  • Thriller: The film has the desperate Sandins fighting against a powerful gang who outmatches them by a large margin.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Purge seems to rob people of their senses.
    • One of the Sandin kids lets a stranger into their house. It results in a home invasion. James ends up dead thanks to this. And their evil neighbors try to take advantage of this to kill them all afterwards. Somewhat subverted since they were in danger either way (if they hadn't, the neighbors probably would've attacked sooner then at the tail end of the event) and the the stranger did repay him for his kindness.
    • This applies to the gang, too, as they are far less guarded than they should be during the Purge, especially in a high-end neighborhood where the residents can afford better weapons.
    • Henry is shot in self-defense, after warning his intended victim. Trying to kill him in the first place was pretty idiotic in the first place.
  • To the Pain: "Alright, well, I guess I'll stab her first, and after that we'll take turns."
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer gives away the majority of the third act.
  • Villainous Rescue: The neighbours save the family from the intruders because they want to kill them themselves.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: James Sandin doesn't hesitate to yell at his kid for letting a stranger into their house, because they don't even know who's after him. It turns out that he has a point when the psychopathic gang turns up on their doorstep...
    • James himself is called out on the penetrable security system that he sells.
    • And again when he is about to give the homeless guy up to the gang to save his family, even getting his wife to torture him into submission.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Applicable to almost everyone, but Zoey's boyfriend and the Sandin's neighbors are standouts.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Both the heroes and villains, though justified for the heroes as the women are trying to kill them.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The gang never get a chance to. The neighbors come closer.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Even after the gang is defeated, the Sandins still have to contend with their Evil All Along neighbors.

  • The Alleged Car: Two of the characters wind up in The Purge hours after their car breaks down right before sunset.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: One of the characters is implied to be out to avenge the death of either a close friend or relative, who was apparently killed in one of the previous Purges.
  • Sequel Escalation: Moves the story directly into the heart of The Purge rather than on the outskirts of it.
    • It also extends the perspectives from just one family to several different groups (albeit coming together as the story goes on), as well as showing a wider array of antagonists including what's heavily implied to be a a heavily-armed, SWAT-level team of mercenaries rounding up assorted victims, and dragging them before an audience of wealthy people, who then bid between each other on who gets to kill the victims.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: As with the first film, it spoils the fact that some of richer people actually bid on captured people so they can kill them.

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