The Purge Horror Movie Series

Since its inception, the horror genre has thrilled audiences with tales of the macabre, the supernatural, and the psychological. One standout franchise that has captivated horror aficionados is “The Purge” series. Set in a dystopian future where all crime, including murder, is legalized for a 12-hour period, the series delves into the darkest aspects of human nature.

With its thought-provoking premise, intriguing characters, and spine-chilling plotlines, “The Purge” series has become a staple in modern horror cinema.

The premise

The franchise is built upon the chilling concept that in a near-future America, an annual event known as the Purge is held. This event occurs on March 21st, from 7 pm to 7 am, during which all crime, including murder, is completely legal. The government, known as the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), promotes the Purge as a means to release pent-up aggression and maintain a low crime rate throughout the rest of the year.

The characters

The series introduces us to a wide array of characters whose lives intersect during the Purge, each with their own motivations and struggles:

James Sandin (Ethan Hawke): The protagonist of the first film, “The Purge,” James is a wealthy home security salesman who believes in the system. However, when a group of masked assailants target his family during the Purge, he must protect them at any cost.

Mary Sandin (Lena Headey): James’ wife, Mary, starts to question the morality of the Purge as the events of the night unfold. Her maternal instincts kick in as she fights to keep her family safe.

Sgt. Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo): The lead character of “The Purge: Anarchy,” Barnes is a police sergeant seeking revenge for his son’s death. He becomes an unexpected protector for a group of strangers trapped in the chaos of the Purge.

Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell): The central character of “The Purge: Election Year,” Roan is a senator determined to end the Purge due to a personal tragedy. She becomes a target herself, sparking a rebellion against the NFFA.

Dmitri (Y’lan Noel): A charismatic anti-hero and the lead in “The First Purge,” Dmitri is a drug lord who refuses to leave his community during the first experimental Purge. He becomes a symbol of resistance against the NFFA’s oppressive tactics.

The plotlines

The series follows a non-linear narrative, with each installment exploring different aspects of the Purge phenomenon:

“The Purge” (2013): The first film takes place almost entirely within the Sandin family’s home as they are targeted by a group of Purgers. It examines the moral dilemmas faced by a family who once supported the Purge but now must survive its horrors.

“The Purge: Anarchy” (2014): This sequel shifts the focus to the streets as a group of strangers, including Barnes, are thrust together during the Purge. It delves into the class divisions and systemic injustice that the Purge exacerbates.

“The Purge: Election Year” (2016): The third installment centers on Senator Roan’s campaign to end the Purge. It delves into the political and social implications of the event, addressing themes of corruption and power.

“The First Purge” (2018): Set in the near-future United States, the film follows the inception of the Purge experiment on Staten Island. The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), a powerful political party, proposes the radical idea of allowing all forms of crime to be legal for 12 hours. They present the Purge as a means of “purging” negative emotions and behaviors, reducing crime rates for the rest of the year.

To test the viability of the concept, the NFFA chooses Staten Island as the site of the inaugural Purge. Residents are offered monetary incentives to stay on the island and participate in the experiment. The promise of money attracts a mix of people, including those who are desperate for financial relief and those who are curious or intrigued by the concept.

As the Purge night unfolds, it becomes clear that the NFFA’s motives are far from altruistic. Government officials manipulate events, deploying mercenaries and encouraging violence to ensure that the Purge appears successful. However, resistance arises as members of the community band together to survive and fight back against the orchestrated chaos.

Themes and social commentary

“The First Purge” serves as a chilling allegory for real-world societal issues, making it more than just a horror film:

Class Divide: The film portrays how the poor and marginalized are often disproportionately affected by such experiments. The promise of money lures many impoverished individuals into participating, highlighting the desperate measures people may take to escape poverty.

Government Manipulation: The NFFA’s manipulation of events to ensure the success of the Purge underscores the potential dangers of those in power twisting narratives for their benefit. This theme resonates with concerns about misinformation and propaganda in our own world.

Racial and Social Injustice: The film explicitly addresses issues of racial and social inequality. The majority of Staten Island’s population is composed of minority groups, and they become the primary targets during the Purge. The film emphasizes how oppressive policies can perpetuate systemic injustice.

Human Resilience: Despite the orchestrated violence, the characters’ resilience and their ability to come together in the face of danger highlight the strength of community and the human spirit.

Impact and reception

“The First Purge” was met with a mix of reviews. While some appreciated its social commentary and timely themes, others felt it lacked the suspense and tension of its predecessors. Regardless, the film further expanded the lore of the “Purge” universe and deepened the examination of the dark consequences of state-sanctioned violence.

In summary, “The First Purge” provides a harrowing look into the origins of the Purge phenomenon, offering a grim reminder of the potential consequences of unchecked power, government manipulation, and societal injustice. By exploring these themes in a horrifying context, the film challenges audiences to reflect on the world around them and the implications of extreme ideologies.


“The Purge” horror movie series is more than just a string of terrifying films. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of societal norms, morality, and the lengths people will go to survive. With its innovative premise, diverse characters, and themes that resonate with contemporary issues, the franchise has solidified its place in the annals of horror cinema, haunting viewers with the unsettling notion of a world where all crime is legal for one horrifying night.

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