In the year 2022, there is 1% unemployment in the United States, almost no crime, and the economy is flourishing. There is no need for people to commit senseless acts of violence over money, nor do people feel the impulse to hurt others out of rage or passion. This is because once a year, all American citizens are allowed to unleash their aggression indiscriminately. For twelve hours, once a year, law enforcement cannot be called, emergency care ceases, and all crime – including murder – becomes legal. This is the premise of The Purge.
In the film, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), his wife Mary (Games of Thrones’ Lena Headey), and their children lock down their gated mansion and prepare to wait out the nationwide ‘Purge.’ This year, however, when a bloodied young man runs onto their street yelling that he was in danger, the Sandins’ son Charlie lifts their security and allows the stranger sanctuary. Moments later, the group of creepily masked miscreants, the women wearing white nightgowns and the men wearing clothes fit for yachting, approach the Sandin house and demand that the family release the stranger, so they may kill him, as is their right. Otherwise, the group will break into the Sandin house and the entire family will fall victim to their purge. From there, the Sandins have to make it through the night with their lives and consciences intact.
The Purge is the newest film from Blumhouse Productions, a production company that has made an art of producing hugely successful micro budget films. Their best-known project, Paranormal Activity, was made for $15,000 and went on to gross $108 million, making it the most profitable movie in film history. I got a chance to speak with producer Jason Blum after seeing The Purge to discuss the film and his take on the horror genre.
Being a person who does not naturally gravitated towards the horror genre, I first asked what types of horror films Blum likes. He said that he looked specifically for horror films that have more than cheap screams, film that have a deeper social or political meaning. This certainly describes The Purge, which made references socioeconomical schism throughout the country and made illusions to upper classes profiting from the misfortune of the lower. In addition to the content of the film, Blum also remarked about how his production company chooses a project to produce. Looking for “micro budget, wide-release films,” Blum greenlights projects that can be produced on a miniscule budget, but can also be released in major theaters, as opposed to just Festivals and art houses. I asked Blum if he ever felt the urge to remind people that he has not only produced scary movies, but has also been involved in The Reader and Hamlet. He said confidently that he was “proud to be the horror guy.”
In fact, Blumhouse has branched out from scary movies. Last Halloween, the production company opened Blumhouse of Horrors, a haunted house experience in Los Angeles. The haunted house entailed as much planning, special effects, costuming, and choreography as a film. Blum relishes the opportunity to get direct feedback from patrons coming out of the haunted house. Blum has already started planning this year’s and hinted that it may be touring the country. I am personally crossing my fingers that it makes its way to Philly!
In addition to The Purge, Blumhouse also has Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, Insidious 2, Paranormal Activity 5, and voodoo-centric film Ghosts opening this year. Blumhouse also produced the SyFy reality show Stranded, in which participants are locked in haunted buildings for the night. Before coming out in theaters this summer, The Purge opened at the Stanley Film Festival, which PFS Artistic Director Michael Lerman programmed. The first Stanley Film Festival took place May 2-5 at the Colorado hotel that inspired The Shining.
The Purge opens in theaters on this Friday. Check out the trailer HERE.
Trackback from your site.