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There is no denying that the era of the slasher film, as well as our appetite for torture films, show no signs of slowing down. Across James DeMonaco's Purge series and its three films —The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year — he has netted a bloodthirsty $279 million. To be totally honest with you, I wasn't a huge fan of The Purge: Election Year, and it appears critics were mixed too - but this isn't to say it wasn't without it's redeeming qualities. Without giving away too much of a spoiler, the ending seemed to pretty much close the book on purging — so will we ever get a fourth film (4urge)? And more importantly, do we even need one? Well here is the argument for why we shouldn't hang up our machetes and repress our blood-lust just yet! Can you survive the night?
Purge the Cast
The original Purge continued the home-invasion theme of films like The Strangers or Funny Games, but on a bigger scale. So what could a new Purge learn from boh of the amazing films mentioned above?A one-film cast! Both The Strangers and Funny Games dispensed of its cast within their run-times, and neither Liv Tyler or Scott Speedman will be back for December's The Strangers 2. Frank Grillo served his time as the Purge's head honcho, but let's be honest, he is no Stallone, Van Damme, or a Terminator T-800. Elizabeth Mitchell made an average heroine in Election Year, but retrod her 'Juliet from LOST' days. As for Edwin Hodge's 'The Stranger' (the only person to appear in all three Purge films), he bowed out in the finale of Election Year. Hodge will still have you Googling for who is he is and what he actually did for three films, meaning that ironically, it was the original Purge with the most well-known cast of Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke. So what is left to lose? The Saw franchise desperately clung onto its ties to previous films by continuing the cast, limping onto Part VII, with an eight film starting this year. By the end we were just pretty much waiting to see when the characters would die. A new cast and a new direction could continue the urge to purge,
Rags to Riches
What made Anarchy one of the (if not the) strongest in the trilogy was introducing the idea of how the wealthy purge. Seeing that money really can buy you anything was a clever social commentary, especially in a time of economic and political worry. What I always found most fascinating about the Purge films was seeing how the other half lived. Human auctions, dinner party murders and people as game were futuristic concepts which seem plucked from the mind of Hannibal Lecter's Thomas Harris. Eva's father literally selling himself during Anarchy was a grim reminder of how the future of the world really could be. On the flip side of this, seeing the upper-middle class get gunned down was always a satisfying scene of the films. The 'hunting ground' scenes in Anarchy were some of the best, channelling the idea of Hostel, but without the gratuitous gore. Why not do a Battle Royale and take the cast to an island to really let the bullets fly? Isn't it about time someone tackled the ideas of Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game again?
Back to the Future
Whilst it is never wise to look too far into the future and count your chickens before they hatch, expanding the Purge universe is the next logical step. Hey, but wait, Election Day rounded off the whole story and tied it up with a neat little bow. The Purgiverse is huge, so setting the next film before Election Year is another way to go, and we've already seen plenty of ideas of what we could see next.
Whilst you could argue the ending, with reports of riots, opens up a plotline for a sequel, I worry: is it believable? Even though the first film is set in 2022, it always felt like the Purge was just a little too close to now to ever become reality (we hope). 2002's sci-fi murder mystery Minority Report may not have been a perfect film, but the setting of 2054 Washington D.C. was a gritty and intriguing backdrop.
If you were to do a fourth outing, take it far away from Election Year's 2040 ending. The far-future where the former NFFA take on anti-purgers in a modern telling of the American Civil War could capitalise on the political themes that redeemed much of Election Year. The Lady Liberty and George Washington purgers of the third film were the creepiest we have seen yet - you only have to look at the Liberty pictures to agree.
Still feeling the 4urge?
Even DeMonaco's weakest entry still managed to eclipse other Goliaths like Tarzan and The BFG in terms of profit. Election Year's relatively small $10 million budget pulled in a bountiful $36 million. In reality a Purge film is simply cheap to make - the worry is that if you over elaborate the setting, the cast or the effects, you start to chip away at that margin. Thankfully, the Purges show that you don't need big names to still hit the big bucks, AND all three films have held their original director. DeMonaco clearly still has a love for his baby, so if there were to be another, it must include him!
The more films you have, the more bravado the name carries with it - you just need to make sure your movies are still refreshing and relevant, rather than just cashing in a well-known brand *cough* Seed of Chucky *cough*. Maybe we do need a break from Purging...it is thirsty work after all. Just because Election Year seemed to 'kill' the idea of a 4urge, doesn't mean it is gone for good. Saw VII was even named The Final Chapter, yet six years later we eagerly anticipate what is coming next. Whether or not it is under DeMonaco, or someone else, another Purge may not be 365 days away, but it is there. I say go away and regroup, come back in a few years.