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Film / The First Purge

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Every bloodbath has a beginning.
"What makes America great? The answer's simple, really. Americans make America great. You are the lifeblood of the nation and your rights as Americans must be safeguarded. There is only one solution to keep our country great - a new tradition. Participate today and nothing will make you prouder than when your boy looks up at you and says, 'Dad, I wanna purge too!'"

The First Purge is a 2018 American social science fiction action horror film directed by Gerald McMurray and written by James DeMonaco. It is a prequel to The Purge film series and has a different cast from the previous three films, which include Y'Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Valez and Marisa Tomei. It was released on July 4, 2018.

To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

Previews: Teaser, Trailer.


The First Purge contains examples of:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: Just as the militia is about to wipe out Dmitri and all the other remaining survivors in the apartment building, Skeletor arrives out of nowhere and starts slaughtering them with a machete. (He only manages to take out two or three before he's killed, but it buys Dmitri enough time to retaliate.)
  • Adult Fear:
    • Sending your younger brother away from a killing zone, only to find out that he never took that bus and very much still roams said zone.
    • Taking your young daughter to a church as a refuge, then witnessing first hand the church becoming subject to a bloodbath. Followed by coating her with someone else's blood, to avoid being targeted.
  • Amicable Exes: Dimitri and Nya, although the latter still voices her disapproval at his way of life, which was the reason of their breakup.
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  • Anti-Hero: Dimitri. He is a gang leader and drug lord, after all.
  • AstroTurf: Citizens do not naturally start purging to sufficient degrees, the government finds out, but since they need it to happen they recruit mercenaries to start killing people to make the experiment look like a success.
  • Ax-Crazy: Skeletor is absolutely nuts, and would probably have killed someone even without The Purge, assuming he hasn't done so already.
  • Big Bad: The NFFA, in this case represented by Chief of Staff Arlo Sabian, start the Purge and thus the films' conflict.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Skeletor never tries to hide the fact that he is an unstable, fucked up psychopath and states out loud his intention to kill everyone. And to his credit, he has the Purge's first kills to back it up. However, he promptly gets his ass kicked by an inexperienced young man still in his early twenties and fails to catch him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dmitri storms the apartment complex on his own to take out the mercenaries sent to kill everyone.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Main Characters survive the night, but hundreds of innocents were senselessly murdered and the Purge will inevitably continue for years to come.
  • Bookends: Not in the film itself, but applies to the series. The Purge was created by a blonde-haired, white woman. It would eventually also be stopped by a blonde-haired, white woman.
  • Covers Always Lie: Nowhere in the film does the person on the poster actually appear.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: The film as a whole becomes Die Hard on Staten Island once the mercenaries arrive and start killing everyone, and the climax is Die Hard in an apartment project. Compound that with Dmitri wearing a tank top while taking the invaders on.
  • Foregone Conclusion: No matter what happens, the film will end with the yearly Purge being instituted as American law, since it's a prequel to the other Purge films.
  • For Science!: The architect of the purge, Dr. Updale, sees the Purge purely from its sociological aspect and reacts badly when the variables are deliberately changed. This gets her killed by the NFFA.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Updale rejects the NFFA's involvement in the Purge. She gets executed before she can do anything to stop it.
  • Honey Trap: The two prostitutes servicing Dimitri are being paid by his rival to assassinate him.
  • Karma Houdini: Sabian receives absolutely no repercussion for having approved sending out the mercenaries to Staten Island. President Bracken, too, escapes scot-free to hold the Purge for years to come, now directing it to cover the entire United States. As The Purge: Election Year shows us, the Purge would be held uninterrupted for 26 years, long after his term (or terms) in office had been expended.
  • Monochrome Casting: Justified since Park Hill is an overwhelmingly black neighborhood. Luisa and Selina (Latino) as well as Sabian and Dr. Updale (white) are pretty much the only non-black characters in the movie, if you exclude extras. As a result, the film is the first in the series not to have a single white character on the heroes' side.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Said verbatim by Dr. May Updale when she realizes that what she intended as a truly positive experiment has been used by the government for sinister means.
  • Necessarily Evil: Sabian tries to sell the NFFA's plan to use the Purge to reduce the poverty levels by killing the poor as this. Naturally Dr. Updale doesn't buy it.
  • Plot Armor: Dmitri keeps emerging from violent confrontations unscathed. He himself seems to be aware of this on some level, boasting that he "doesn't know how to die".
    • Skeletor would have probably attracted a lot of bad attention well before the purge night. A lot of the armed characters, would probably shoot him on sight, especially if they saw he was armed.
  • Promotion to Parent: Nya to Isaiah, after their parents' deaths.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Being given carte blanche to do whatever they want for 12 hours causes many of Staten Island's citizens to get high or have orgies, not slaughter people willy-nilly, except in the cases of a few like Skeletor. This prompted the NFFA to send out death squads.
    • Subverted in a major way. The chances of any one participating group or individual being pleased with the outcome once the clock ran out would be incredibly low. Chances are significantly higher that they lost at least one person they cared about while attempting the violence, and was also locked in a standoff with a rival group without achieving any worthwhile results.
  • Retired Outlaw: Nya looks and acts like a perky social activist, but she used to date the most powerful and feared gang leader of Staten Island. When all breaks loose, she does not hesitate to use her skills if the situation calls it.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Vaguely. The frustrated New Founding Fathers resort to deploying mercenaries and drones when it becomes apparent that, with the exception of Skeletor and a few incidentals like the two Mad Bomber women, most people, even when given the opportunity to do whatever they want without consequence, won't immediately resort to the expected bloodshed and chaos, just things like vandalism or theft (the man shown trying to break open an ATM for example, and those looting stores) or hedonistic partying.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slasher Smile: Skeletor frequently sports one.
  • Take That!: Much like The Purge: Election Year did, The First Purge takes shots at Donald Trump.
    • The first poster, featuring a red hat with the film's title on it, can clearly be seen as one against Trump's red hats that said 'Make America Great Again'.
    • The very first trailer - edited to very closely resemble a standard political PSA - aired during Trump's first official State of the Union Address.
    • Nya calls a Purger who groped her a "pussy-grabbing motherfucker."
  • Too Dumb to Live: All the named characters.
    • The smarter gangs would either evacuate or lockdown their neighborhoods, with plans to overtake the remaining rival gang members AFTER the purge.
    • For every group, as soon as someone got sniped, the people around them would realize its too dangerous to move around, so they would hold up and wait out the clock.
    • The white supremists would probably attempt to go door-to-door in the neighborhoods, and get wiped out as soon as residents start sniping at them.
    • A lot of groups would get locked in a time consuming stalemate with pretty much any other armed group, and just waste the money they spent buying their ammunition.
    • Society as a whole. Showing someone killed with a knife on tv is not a way to inspire widespread acceptance of the idea of The Purge.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The mercenaries sent by the government attack a church and kill almost the entire congregation, including the children it seems.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Park Hill. It's reason why the Purge was experimented there in the first place.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The NFFA have Dr. Updale killed when she tries to stop the experiment.

"What have I done?"

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