THE PURGE

THE STRANGERS meets STRAW DOGS. What? you say — isn’t this supposed to be a wide-reaching satire about American violence? That was the promise of the first half of the trailer. But this is mostly a keep-the-bad-guys-out thriller, married to the premise that one night a year any type of crime is allowable for 24 hours. (Tantalizing hints of what the movie might have been come through in the opening credits: video from city after city of people getting the crap beaten out of them, and worse, much worse.) The focus may be narrower, but it’s tight and effective. Among the best performances: Rhys Wakefield, so unsettling in his overly polite way, like the psychos in FUNNY GAMES). And Lena Headey has the most satisfying moment at the end as the ordeal ticks down to the all-clear and she emphasizes that the slaughter. must. stop…. by taking the head of the nastiest bitch in the movie and smashing it repeatedly into the dining room table. – Jeff Schultz

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