Tag Archives: horror

The lingering issues in ‘Alien: Covenant’ (Spoiler Warning)

Published by: Anthony Wallace


xEMPIRE_AC_PAGE_70_CROP.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ssHt4qHtROHaving given my thoughts on ‘Alien: Covenant‘ in my review (click here) there was plenty to think about as credits rolled. I spoke fairly positive about the film as far as the acting by Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, and even Danny McBride. We also got to see amazing cinematography and production design with space and the eventual arrival on paradise (a.k.a. the Engineer’s home world). And lastly, the suspense and terror were coupled by a talented sound artist in Jed Kurtzel. Where the film struggles however is in its identity and where  Ridley Scott and the studio want to take the series next.

To begin the search we examine the moment when the Covenant ship arrives on the Engineer’s home planet. It’s here that we find a beautiful landscape that hides a dark and dangerous agenda by David. Once David makes his presence felt he then leads the surviving colonists to a safe haven where we they discover the terrible truths. The problem though is that the Engineers are hardly mentioned and the citadel where they live is barely searched. This was an opportunity to learn who, what, and why the Engineers decided to create humans as we learned in ‘Prometheus‘. By the end of the film it’s learned that the Engineers were to go back to earth and destroy their creation.

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It’s almost a tease to the fanbase who loved ‘Prometheus‘ that the Engineers would not play a bigger role in ‘Alien: Covenant‘ and were consequently non-essential. The second half of the film we are reintroduced to David who reveals his desire to create life and how humanity’s actions have led him to believe that the human race does not deserve a second chance. Thus he’s been experimenting with the ampules and the black goo we saw in Prometheus. It leads us to David needing living hosts to breed a pathogen that to him is considered the perfect organism. All is well when it comes to Michael Fassbender and his character’s intrigue and horrifying viewpoints of how he perceives his creators and his creations. My issue comes to how and why the Engineers were eradicated without even a mention of what he learned from them as he and Elizabeth Shaw journeyed to their home world.

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The next issue is in the discovery of where the Aliens originated. It becomes clear that David engineered the embryos and would then spawn blood-thirsty monsters. But the discovery is all too obvious and is almost eluded to in ‘Prometheus‘ because of David’s curiosity and a desire to become a god himself. In point, everything happens so fast and the revelation to the origins of the Alien are non-suspenseful. Had we seen some of the experimentations or the progression of his final product it would have been more fulfilling. But a quick explanation to Oram (Billy Crudup) devoids the mystery we’ve come to enjoy and almost feels like a cheap way of furthering the mythology in the Alien franchise.

It feels like much more can be developed when it comes to the Engineers and I certainly hope we’ll see more of them in the next installment. There are many elements to this film that are enjoyable but I would have preferred a more fleshed out script that didn’t feel like rushing through its big ideas and thus leaving behind what could have been. ‘Alien: Covenant‘ is enjoyable and is one of the more solidly made entries in the series.

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This leads me to my last point and that is the studio should not always react to the fanbase. After ‘Prometheus‘ left so many critics and audience goers divided than ever before the studio’s hand changed the direction in which Ridley Scott was going with the story. After watching ‘Alien: Covenant‘ it’s evident that the movie feels half of a ‘Prometheus‘ and ‘Alien‘ sequel. Because of that we get a movie that doesn’t know its true identity. In the end, it cheats itself from being a great ‘Alien‘ movie and thus resulting as an apology to the fanbase.

Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


IMG_20170323_0950491It was 38 years ago that movie watchers were introduced to ‘Alien‘ back in 1979. Director Ridley Scott would go on to terrify audiences with a gut wrenching, hair raising cat and mouse game when space truckers encounter a deadly beast in deep space. A first of its kind that would spawn rip-offs that pales in comparison to a horror masterpiece. Then 33 years later, Scott would return to the universe that solidified his career with 2012’s ‘Prometheus‘. His return was met with praise and frustration as the movie had high production value but lacked in answering it’s big questions.

This now leads us to the follow-up in ‘Alien: Covenant‘ where Ridley Scott promises to bring back the Xenomorphs and the carnage fans came to love. And he also provides answers to the many lingering pains that were left unanswered in ‘Prometheus‘. After months and months of anticipation the time has finally arrived where fans look forward to a much needed Alien sequel. What one has to wonder is if fans will be satisfied for what has been a tumultuous journey up to this point.

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As a colony ship, the Covenant, advances towards its destination of a new home they are hit by a neutrino burst. The crew awakens from cryo-sleep to then intercept a signal from a nearby planet that closely resembles earth. While investigating this new world they discover what turns out to be a deadly game of survival when death and chaos awaits their arrival. The film stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride.

I was in the minority of those who enjoyed ‘Prometheus‘ and praised the direction and production that was put into the project. The idea of the Engineers was clever as it brought about the idea of creators of mankind who then turn on their creation. Michael Fassbender’s David makes a strong presence as the newly created android by the Weyland Corporation as his ability to be curious takes on a life of its own. Going into ‘Alien: Covenant‘ I was looking forward to another strong performance by Michael Fassbender as this time around he plays not only David but the Covenant’s new android Walter.v1.bjsxNTM1OTU4O2o7MTczNDI7MTIwMDs0NjYyOzMxMzk

The way to describe ‘Alien: Covenant‘ is a little frustrating because as much as it tries to be an Alien movie it also tries being a sequel to ‘Prometheus‘. And a lot of it has to do with Ridley Scott trying to appease the fan bases in both camps. Starting with the positives the movie is beautiful to look at. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on is that Ridley Scott knows how to produce and direct. From the external shots of the Covenant ship to the landscapes of the Engineer’s home world they are breathtaking to watch. Even the cast do a decent job while falling one by one to deadly pathogens.

Lead actress Katherine Waterston plays the distressed co-captain alongside Billy Crudup’s Oram. The director’s belief in casting strong females for the role has proven to be true as was the case of Sigourney Weaver. Except she isn’t meant to surpass Weaver’s performance in the franchise rather to demonstrate the tenacity as she fights for her life. Unfortunately, a large chunk of the runtime is dedicated to Michael Fassbender’s David/Walter as he continues to explore the idea of creation. But that’s what saves the film from floundering into familiar gasps and terror. David takes things to the next level and that’s when he truly becomes a terrifying menace.

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Now we come to the difficult part because as much as we’re entertained by Michael Fassbender and the visual prowess of Ridley Scott, the film struggles to balance in tone. When we explore the terrain of an uncharted paradise it’s hard not to forget ‘Prometheus‘ and the scientific expedition that took place as they journey to find humanity’s origins. Then there comes a point when the monsters arrive, a.k.a the back-burster, and the many other creatures that show up in the film. The creatures almost seemed to take the backseat or were merely around to make an appearance. A good chunk of the film glides around the questions of the Engineers and how David survives a hostile environment. There never were smooth transitions between the terror and the grand ideas set by the script. It’s unfortunate because the lack of substance behind the Engineers is something I was hoping to see more of.

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There’s going to be disappointment and that’s because the script tries to please everyone but not in a satisfying way that we’d hope. Great performances by the cast; more specifically Michael Fassbender and even the one and only Danny McBride. There are terrifying moments in the movie and I wouldn’t even say its the aliens themselves. If you were put off by the religious and scientific garble in ‘Prometheus‘ then don’t expect it to go away. In fact, it may be more blatant as the movie does explore the ideas of heaven and hell. If you’re a fan of the aliens then you will also be disappointed because their mysterious beginnings may spoil the lore that fans have enjoyed for many years.

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It may take subsequent viewings to change my perspective on ‘Alien: Covenant‘ as time goes on. But in the way I was thoroughly in awe of ‘Prometheus‘ on its first viewing it may be a tough mountain to climb. This is not an easy review because although I tried not to go in with expectations I still ended up feeling somewhat let down. The last thing I will mention is the sound score by Jed Kurzel. He did a great job by mixing in the sound of Jerry Goldsmith’sAlien‘ with this movie. There was a great use of buildup when things started going awry. It made me feel like we returned to Ridley Scott’s world and bringing back memories of how great the original ‘Alien‘ was. Though the latest entry in the franchise isn’t a deal breaker it certainly reminds us how special a filmmaker is able to explore the unknowns while terrifying its audience in the process.

Rating: 6.5/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Alien: Covenant‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? How would you rank the films in the franchise? And would you rather have gotten a Prometheus sequel or an Alien sequel? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Get Out (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


get-out-2017-2In an age of reciprocal storytelling and an audience that clamors for something new there sometimes comes a breakthrough. The writer and directorial debut of Jordan Peele presents a fresh concept with a thrilling take on social commentary. Not only is ‘Get Out‘ a thriller but it also has a mix of comedy and a great ensemble cast. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and LilRel Howery. As the story goes, Chris is about to meet the parents of his new girlfriend, Rose. What starts as a warm welcome then turns to bizarre events as Chris realizes he may be caught in a sinister plot.

We’ve been fortunate to have seen some great work from new and upcoming directors from these last couple of years. And this is no different as Jordan Peele takes risk in using social commentary of interracial relationships and injecting a bit of horror. After watching ‘Get Out‘ the one thing I appreciated most was how simple the concept was and didn’t overcomplicate itself. Many times movies can bombard itself with plot twists and then lose focus as to what made the movie effective in the first place. Credit also has to be given to the cast because they didn’t over do themselves nor did they fall victim as movies tend to do.

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I’m not going to go into detail as to what happens in the movie because everyone should go in with a fresh set of eyes. All I will say is that there was a great use of suspense that managed to carry all the way through the film. Not once are you looking at your watch and asking yourself if the movie is over. And again, the movie runs with great pace that allows the audience to stay on their toes. Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Chris, on many occasions was paranoid considering he was black and if you put yourself in his shoes you would be just as freaked out. That’s what made the movie unique and many people from all walks of life could connect with his character.

This was a great film and one that took me by surprise. Jordan Peele is on the right track and has a bright future in his film career. Could we see another project down the line that mirrors a similar plot? It’s too early to tell but I hope we get more of these because original features seems too much to ask now-a-days.

Rating: 8/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Get Out‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Rings (2016/17) Review

mv5bnju1ndaxntg0mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzuxmjewmti-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Following the footsteps of Hollywood as it continues to revisit long lost franchises, we get the third installment in ‘Rings‘. The film is directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez, who was only involved in one other film and is fairly new to Hollywood. It has been 12 years since we’ve seen a sequel to ‘The Ring Two‘ and what begs the question is why now? That can be said for many properties in the horror genre as not only this month, January, but for the remainder of 2017 as well. So let’s dive into ‘Rings‘.

When Julia suddenly loses contact with her boyfriend Holt as he attends a University, she goes on a search to only discover that not all is as it seems. Soon after Julia watches a video she then gets the message that she has seven days to live. This sends her on a wild goose chase to locate the remains of Samara before it’s too late. The film stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe.

In my last review with ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘, I spoke about how the series has been around for 15 years and that by this point it was more of a fan affair. So with ‘Rings‘ you look at it and wonder if it is even relevant to the fans of the original back in 2002. Coming off of a very disappointing sequel in 2005 one stops to think if there’s a purpose on moving forward. The trailers leading up to its inevitable release were cringeworthy alone as you can sense that the lore and greatness of Gore Verbinski’sThe Ring‘ was all but non-existent. This leads us to three minutes of footage that was put out by the studio which saw a doomed flight for a couple of passengers. At this point nothing could save this movie.

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Do not think after 12 years that resurrecting this franchise was going to be amazing. There’s an epidemic going around with these properties where continuity doesn’t mean anything anymore. The troubling aspect of this is that the fans of the original will hate the direction on which the movie takes; whereas the general audience most likely will not notice. Just from what I’ve seen it felt like the studio deliberately made it into a stand-alone from its predecessors. There wasn’t even a nod or mention of Naomi Watt’s character from the previous films.

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The acting in this debacle was below average and the couple that we follow of Julia and Holt, both played by Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz and Alex Roe, were cringeworthy. I do have to say that from the beginning when Julia first came on screen she didn’t bother me at first and I was going along with it. But there’s a certain moment when logic is supposed to kick in that she does the inevitable and lost my interest soon after. And we have Alex Roe who’s only there because of good looks and cause he’s the person that puts Julia in her predicament in the first place. We also have to mention Johnny Galecki who plays Gabriel who for the most part I thought would play a bigger role just by how the movie started. He gets wasted and written off by the half-way mark which by that point nothing was going right so he was smart to leave in that sense.

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One of the big caveats that I had with the film was the pacing because there were times when characters were jabbering and nothing was happening. Which then leads me to the plot of the movie which has to do with Samara. She was watered down compared to what we’d seen in the previous films to a point where I didn’t find her terrifying at all. One of the plot devices had to do with characters showing the tape to other people and in which would pass death down the line. No spoilers there but how many times have we seen this used? We’ve seen this in ‘Final Destination‘, ‘It Follows‘, among others. And yes, given the opening to the film you get a Final Destination vibe. There’s even a scene that takes place towards the latter end of the movie where you sense ‘Don’t Breathe‘ and was a complete ripoff from that.

If you’re going into ‘Rings‘ as a fan of the original you are going to loathe this movie. There is nothing redeeming here and even for the general audience who go to see this will regret it just by the acting and pacing. Forget what you had remembered in the other films because it just won’t matter since Samara seems to have multiple variations of her story. Try not to get sucked into the theater because if you thought watching the video was going to get you killed, then believe me this movie actually will.

Rating: 4.5/10

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What do you think of ‘Rings‘? Do you plan on watching it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Don’t Breathe (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


dont-breathe-posterIt’s the perfect hit and nobody around to raise the alarms for Rocky, Alex, and her boyfriend as they look to rob the home of a veteran soldier who just so happens to be blind. The problem though is he’s not only crafty but downright dangerous and may have just given the intruders a run for their money. From the director of the Evil Dead (2013) remake, Fede Alvarez, comes a new twist in this new horror gem that’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. The movie stars Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto.

With good praise coming out early for ‘Don’t Breathe‘ it got me wondering what we could expect as the trailer caught my attention. After viewing the film I will say this was a lot of fun with chills coming from every corner. Starting with the concept of intruders breaking into a blind mans home to only discover he’s crazier then he seems really worked and even pushed the envelope to places that were shocking. The performances were even good, considering it was kept to three characters which gives us enough time to flesh out the characters before things go really bad. Standouts come from Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette who worked very well together and showed great chemistry when they put up a fight against the blind man. Even the blind man who is played by Stephen Lang surely brought terror to viewers eyes when it’s revealed in the movie of his motivations behind his madness.

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One of the things that was appreciated was how the creators turned the playbook upside down by having our antagonist be the one who suffers from an ailment versus the protagonist. In this case, the veteran who lost his eye sight in battle uses methods to go after the intruders and must rely on sound and even smell when appropriate. As the title implies, ‘Don’t Breathe‘ has a purpose and the filmmaking truly sets up a tense and nail biting experience. Take for instance the moment when Alex realizes something’s gone terribly wrong and tiptoes through the hallways before the blindman appears in front of him as they cross paths. It’s seen in the trailer but it has more of an effect when you’re actually watching the movie that it does justice.

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As much as the premise was what got me into the theater is why there are also flaws that at times can be glaring. Take for instance the moment where the blindman’s motive is revealed and how he went about dealing with it. Some of it is far fetched and when someone is not able to see and yet they have the ability to get revenge is when the film loses credibility. The biggest strength the movie has is by keeping the movie inside the home. Because once the movie heads outside is when the villain becomes weak. It’s scarier to imagine being locked inside of a crazed blindman’s home who has a few tricks up his sleeve. There is a little bit of nostalgia as a dog is seen in the movie which plays homage to Wes Craven’sThe People Under the Stairs‘ and at times becomes resourceful for the blind man.

For ‘Don’t Breathe‘ this was a unique experience and is definitely terrifying for the audience. Even with flaws in logic at times, it does what it sets out to do by getting under your skin. One scene in particular was shot hauntingly well that it would give anyone the chills and a turn of the stomach. For Director Fede Alvarez, this movie is a step up from his last effort and shows growth in his career. It shows that it’s not always about the blood and gore but with a clever concept it can go a long ways in leaving an everlasting impression.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Don’t Breathe‘? Are you planning to watch it? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Lights Out (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


Lights_Out_2016_posterFrom Producer James Wan, the director of ‘The Conjuring‘ and ‘Insidious‘, brings us a new twist in horror with first time Director David Sandberg in ‘Lights Out‘. As Martin begins to develop fears of the dark he turns to his sister Rebecca as their mom grows more unstable due to her depression. We learn that a shadowy figure named Diana is living in the dark and was a friend of their mother Sophie when both were in a mental facility as kids. After suffering from a rare skin disorder and the doctor’s failed attempts to treat Diana’s condition it takes a turn for the worse. Now Diana is preying on Sophie’s family and will go at nothing to have all but Sophie to herself. The film stars Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Alexander DiPersia, and Maria Bello.

This was one of those films that could’ve been a straight rip-off of ‘Darkness Falls‘ (2003) or Robert Harmon’sThey‘ (2002), but instead we get an inventive take on many people’s worst fears of being afraid of the dark. A nail biter is an understatement as David Sandberg focuses on the light and how terrifying it would be if something was living in the shadows. My overall impressions of the film was that it was excellent and had a well-rounded cast that not only served for the purposes of the movie but also gave us reasons for caring for the characters as well. Never was the movie dull nor did it skip a beat as it followed a tight pace in its 82 minute runtime.

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As we mentioned before, what many horror films lack is in character development. Rather in ‘Lights Out‘ everyone plays a contributing role to where we end up caring for all of them in some way. The movie also does a good job of following the mom played by Maria Bello and her daughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) when both of them go back and forth when it came to the safety and concerns of Martin. Seeing from each vantage point and how screwed up the family has been over the years you could only but appreciate the balance in their development as characters. Which then leads us into the shadowy figure herself, Diana, who without giving anything away plays an integral part with Sophie. Diana is also just a freakishly looking entity with an interesting backstory that can only be haunting from first glance.

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The movie is well-paced with one of the best opening sequences that will surely get under your skin. It had me in suspense from the very beginning and didn’t let up until the very end. Just the idea of Sandberg exploring the dark and by creating a compelling story to go along with it is a testament to film makers in the genre of horror. It’s no surprise that he got a little help by James Wan who is currently the go to guy for horror movies and has a way of using audiences fears as we’ve seen in his past films. Every time you’d have a character play with the light and seeing Diana from one moment to the next was terrifying only because you didn’t know where she’d be the moment the light went back on. The thought of what you cannot see is just as frightening of what you can see.

Being that this is David Sandberg’s first feature length movie he did an incredible job. Not only did ‘Lights Out‘ keep you on the edge of your seat but you also were able to care for everyone as well. The performances by Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman were great along with a minor role of Alexander DiPersia, who as Rebecca’s boyfriend, brought some comic relief when needed. That was something that worked to its benefit as well when there were funny moments to help ease the tension when Diana would run amok. Best thing to do is to go into the movie with very little knowledge or exposure to the trailer. If you want to freak people out who haven’t heard of ‘Lights Out‘ then you’ll definitely want to take this ride.

Rating: 8/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Lights Out‘? Are you planning to go watch the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

The Purge: Election Year (2016) Review

PG3_UncleSam1Sht_0518_1SM.0This is not a test. This is the commencement of the annual purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government. With Universal successfully coming off of the sequel with ‘The Purge: Anarchy‘ after a rocky start to the franchise, audiences bare witness to the next event. From the director who brought us the first two Purge films is James DeMonaco, who surprisingly has  only directed four movies including this one. As America enters into election season, a Senator running for office threatens to suspend the annual tradition if elected as President. This catches the attention of the founding fathers as they set out to eliminate any threats that would bring an end to their agenda.

It’s not ironic that with an election coming up we’d see Universal take advantage by returning with their eye catching property ‘The Purge‘ while adding their own message to the mix. Frank Grillo returns for ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ and is Senator’s Charlie Roan’s  (Elizabeth Mitchell) protector when the annual purge slowly approaches. Coming off the last film where Leo Barnes was going to go after the man responsible for the death of his son, returns here in a role where he too wants to see the purge come to an end. While the Senator is put in a safe house it soon is found out that it’s all a set up from the inside to kill the Senator. This sets both Leo and Roan on the run while danger awaits them on every corner.

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The first Purge movie was met with mostly negative responses and was in due part to the action taking place in one location. As a viewer we weren’t able to take in the concept which is that a country would for 12 hours see an event where all crime is legal; including murder, and the carnage that would follow. Later we’d see the sequel in 2014 where it made up for what lacking while also adding more to the founding fathers and why the purge was created. And with a standout performance by Frank Grillo as the Sergeant, he takes in survivors of the night while trying to lead them to safety. So it brings us to the third installment where it’s for all the marbles and the country’s soul is on the line.

Let’s start by saying that seeing Frank Grillo return was a great call and seeing him in this movie brought us back to how great he was in the last outing. He doesn’t stop a beat when insider’s turn bad and he has to escort Senator Roan to safety. This leads us to Elizabeth Michell’s performance as the Senator who believe it or not wasn’t a distraction. You were sold into her character who was running to end the violence and tradition that was only fueling the agenda’s of the elite. There are instances where people are uncertain of her true motives as she can be seen like all other politicians.

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It would be crazy for me not to deny there wasn’t a political tone to the movie when it comes to rich versus the poor and is how the tradition of the purge helps to eliminate a certain class. A more disturbing take was how we see tourists from other countries coming to participate in the purge. This brings to light the ongoing fight in today’s world where terrorism is arriving or showing up all over the world. But for the sake of the film it works to it’s benefit and shows how powerful a voice can be if one or not all takes action. Of the three films thus far, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ is the most politically telling of them all and may leave you with mixed reactions.

As was the case with the last two films, ‘The Purge: Election Year‘ has it’s fair share of problems. The concept still has holes that it can’t manage to overcome considering the scale of such an event. No matter how hard the movie tries focusing on the political aspects of the event, it ends up cheating itself from being a more thought provoking idea. The violence is surprisingly little, yet we see a lot of blood and death if that were to make any sense. There’s plenty of ammunition to be spent here and is what we see most of. In the end, it struggles between being a horror film or an all out action feature. One last thing I’ll say is that in the last films we’d see a time frame of the purge taking place. In this one the movie doesn’t place too much attention to how much time has passed from once the purge starts to when it ends. Though it may not make a difference it does feel absent and leaves you wondering why that decision was made.

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With that said, the ending does leave with potential for another sequel and will ultimately depend on the returns at the box office. The production budget for this movie was $10 million* so it can easily make a profit. As Universal and Blumhouse productions continue with a winning track record, it’s safe to say their trilogy is a success. And when I mean success, it’s in regards to the concept that is the purge and how it caught the attention of movie-goers since its inception in 2013. Give it to Director James DeMonaco as he not only made a franchise but also isn’t shy in making a statement as well.

Rating: 6.8/10

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Source: Box Office Mojo

Do you plan on watching ‘The Purge: Election Year‘? What do you think of the franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.