Thursday, September 6, 2018

Pilot Review: The Purge

The Purge (USA)
Premiered September 4 at 10pm

I remember hearing about the movie that bears this show’s name when it was released five years ago and expressing no desire of any kind to see it. While I avoid horror in general, I’m not sure if I would classify this entirely as such, mainly since it’s a horrifying concept but not necessarily one that features extensive jump scenes or dead people coming back to life, one thing that I really don’t like. The bigger question is why anyone would want to visit a world where crime, especially murder, was legal for twelve hours a year, a puzzling premise in itself. Sitting down to watch this pilot, I think I took this show too much at face value, comparing it to other dystopias on television like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Jericho.” As a result, I encountered too many opportunities to poke holes in the structure of the plot, like the immunity of “level 10” government officials and agreements being signed by people to not “be purged.” If everything is legal and nothing is monitored, there’s no way to keep track and no way to hold people accountable for breaking these alleged rules. It would probably help if the characters weren’t so stupid, like the executive who thought it was a good idea to leave her protected floor to contract a hit, somehow thinking she’ll be let back in once the purge has started, and the wife who thinks that confiding in and taking pills from someone she definitely shouldn’t have trusted isn’t going to lead to very bad places. And the cult in which devout young people sacrifice themselves so that the guilty can be purged was about as creepy (and thinly-devised) as the fact that the New Founding Fathers of America passed around masks of infamous serial killers they saw as brave trailblazers who purged before it was legal. It’s hard to take this show seriously, and though I’m just a tiny bit curious how these dumb people will either meets their ends or narrowly survive, I have no interest whatsoever in watching any more of this.

How will it work as a series? I wouldn’t have ever pitched this as a weekly series, though I’m still astounded that four separate films have been made. It took until the last minute of this show for the feeling of dread to truly be realized as the believers realized what fate awaited them, making this a very slow start to what I’m sure will be a miserable and disturbing road ahead.
How long will it last? The reviews are decidedly poor, but that wasn’t a problem for all four of the movies, which received similarly negative press. The ratings were decent, and premiering simultaneously on Syfy probably won’t hurt. I’m not sure exactly what USA is going for with its programming right now, but I suspect this will be the only season of this show that we’ll see.

Pilot grade: F

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