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‘The First Purge’ Trailer Makes Its Intentions Known

It’s kill or be killed, again, but for the first time.
The First Purge
By  · Published on April 7th, 2018

It’s kill or be killed, again, but for the first time.

The Purge franchise has delivered more than a few thrills over the years, and the varying degrees of fun they’ve managed has always been enough to ignore one simple thing. The premise of the Purge itself — a twelve hour period each year where all crime is legal in exchange for people not committing crimes the rest of the time — is moronic.

The suggestion that Congress would pass the Purge Act isn’t the problem as it’s a sci-fi setup and a highly entertaining one at that. No, the issue is that there’s absolutely zero chance that the population would actually stop breaking the law the other 355 days of the year. That’s not how crime or criminals work. It’s a plot point that has always felt nonsensical and easily the least believable element in a movie since Indiana Jones climbed inside a refrigerator, but the films ignore reality and state crime has dropped to ridiculously low rates since implementation.

It doesn’t prevent the Purge’s supposed success from being utter nonsense, of course, but what if the purpose was never actually about stopping crime? The three existing films haven’t exactly been subtle with their subtext to text shift regarding the targeting of predominantly poor and/or minority victims, but was that the actual inspiration behind it all in the first place?

The First Purge is the fourth film in the franchise, and as the name implies it’s a prequel exploring the very first time the annual event was put into practice. Check out the first trailer below.

The race/class issue that’s always been a part of the franchise is 100% front and center here, but any concern that the politics and commentary might overwhelm the action and imagery should now be squelched. Creator James DeMonaco (writer/director of the first three films) returns but is strictly responsible for the script this time, and directing duties have been passed to Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands).

McMurray seems to have matched the visual style of the earlier films which lends the violence and carnage an attractively nightmarish atmosphere, but it looks like maybe the budget was trimmed? The scale of action on display — at least in this first trailer — makes me think it’s budgeted closer to the first film’s $3 million than the two sequels’ $9-10 million each.

The biggest downside to this being a prequel, of course, is the absence of Frank Grillo who starred in both The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year. There aren’t any returning players, but of the new faces the most familiar is Marisa Tomei as the person who actually develops the theory behind the annual Purge. She appears to regret her creation as the violence grows, so I’m guessing she’ll be offed as a threat to it all before the end credits roll.

The official synopsis is here:

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.

The First Purge opens July 4th, 2018.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.