The Purge: Anarchy, review

It should be said straight off the cusp that neither The Purge nor The Purge: Anarchy are great films. The first foray into the world of America’s new Founding Fathers was floored from start to finish with forgettable characters and an indoor locale that didn’t spark the imagination. Anarchy succeeds in ways its predecessor doesn’t yet still fails to stand out as a horror film that’s of much cinematic worth, this is down to the basis of the narrative being completely floored. There are innumerable plot holes in the whole idea of the ‘Annual Purge’ in which the premise for the film leads on and that’s where the  fundamentals for nit picking begins with both features.

Anarchy sees the sixth yearly killing spree take place in a United States that is now under the control of sadistic Founding Fathers. What viewers discover in this installment – that wasn’t explored in film one – is the Purge as the governments way of wiping out the countries lower class citizens. Political commentary really is never far away in the feature, from gun culture in America to capitalist powers, there’s a mild serious exploration there that director James DeMonaco is intent on pursuing in order to make this more than just your average horror. Does he succeed? At times yes, but neither films true potential is ever fully realised.

masked antagonists in the purge: anarchy

masked antagonists in the purge: anarchy

The biggest change between the sister films comes with the changeable locations in the follow-up. Spectators watch as a group of five strangers move together to survive the night and it’s this that propels that narrative into better territory than the original. There are three sets of characters, too. The audience only fully get to grips with one (and barely) but they all share scenes throughout the film that do, at times, lend to a genuine intensity that’s so clearly missing from film one. Having said that, only two of the five main actors have a true on-screen presence and there are so many points in which forced dialogue becomes the overwhelming focus of the run time; this is down to both the delivery (Zach Gilford’s performance is truly wooden) and the poor writing (courtesy of DeMonaco).

Gilford will be known by many for his impressive performance in cult sport drama Friday Night Lights, a series that the actor can be remembered for positively. Can the same be said about his role as Shane in Anarchy? Definitely not.The only impressive names in the entire ensemble are Zoe Soul as Cali and Frank Grillo as Leo who share a father/daughter chemistry that is the only character development that makes its mark on the audience. Michael K. Williams pops up at various points in the narrative as the leader of a resistance group, his presence is welcomed. Williams has an undeniable fierceness that is fully realised in his role here. Director DeMonaco relies on visual scares but there’s only so many times the doll masks cause a reaction (and that’s lost somewhere in the earlier half of the film). Throw in a government official known as Big Daddy who drives around in a monster truck, killing innocents, and a finale in which the wealthy partake in a barbaric Hunger Games style evening, and you’ve got yourself a super violent picture of contemporary America, right?

The Purge: Anarchy made a whopping $119 million – which, considering its $9 million budget, is one hell of a profit – it was also met with a better response than the first by critics. It falls short by some miles of being a well-crafted, sensibly paced and intelligent feature, but it will please spectacle-loving horror fans.

The Walking Dead; Slabtown review

This weeks episode of The Walking Dead saw a change in setting, and an introduction for a new set of characters (not forgetting that Beth is now back in the fold). This is an interesting change-up for the series, and holds some important questions for fans of this consistently enthralling show. Beth has so far been a character who is yet to have her moment in the spotlight, her most interesting juncture so far is her burgeoning relationship with Daryl, something that became one of the most intriguing elements of the second half of season four. If we cast our minds back to season two, we can remember the way Beth once was, and how far her character has come – not only has she hardened but become much more likeable, and someone who everyone is rooting for. Emily Kinney brings a naivety and youthful realism to Beth, which is refreshing in a show which often focuses on a bunch of hard-asses (maybe it’s because I envision myself in her shoes, and that’s a powerful tool to use with those watching).

emily kinney as beth in the walking dead

emily kinney as beth in the walking dead

Slabtown, this weeks offering, welcomes back season ones setting of Atlanta, the built-up city now left to rot, is over-grown, grey and desolate – and looks just how a post-apocalyptic piece of entertainment should. The locale of the hospital is a well-judged juxtaposition, in the sense that the vicinity looks normal, and the characters are walking around in scrubs and police uniform (new personalities such as Dawn believe they are trying to re-build the broken world they  have found themselves in), but the people wearing these are miles away from law-abiding or innocent. Violence against humans is heavily featured in Slabtown and despite being a now running theme, still holds shocks (WD is wonderful for its ability to never feel repetitive). While Rick and the crew are certainly missed in episodes they don’t feature, the arrival of a new group of survivors is enough to keep us on our toes, and eager for the time the two may come to a head.

The final scenes lent to some of the most tense, and nail-biting moments we’ve seen so far in season five, and comfortably placed Beth in the hearts of those watching. The arrival of Carol at the hospital was enough to keep us wishing episode five would come sooner, and enough to have our brains a whirl at whats in store for all involved. Full of enigma, and always surprisingly real, mine, and I’m sure your, allegiance to The Walking Dead never wains. Consistently riveting, and genuinely one of the best television dramas to come out of recent years, nothing but praise can be written for this wonderfully original show.

The Walking Dead season 5 – No Sanctuary

Season five of The Walking Dead is back, and with a bang. The death toll was high, there were walkers-a-plenty and the group were reunited (yay, at last!). No Sanctuary, the on point name of this weeks pilot episode was all about humanity, or more accurately, lack of.  Rick and the gang were pitted against the monstrous leaders of Terminus, the destination the group were headed in season four. All became clear pretty imminently that were was no sanctuary in this once train terminal, and that the group needed to get their thinking caps on quickly to escape the hell on earth they had arrived to. Que Rick and Darryl being as bad-ass as ever, Carol working her way back into the hearts of the audience and of course, as always in the best of The Walking Dead, a few tears.

The Terminus situation was quickly, and violently wrapped up making way for what looks to be an on-the-road story. The strength of WD lies with the characters, and the cast who play them. Rick, Darryl, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Carl..the list goes on, and five seasons in they are as perfect as they’ve always been. As mentioned, this episode was all about the humanity, and loss of humanity that the survivors of this apocalypse are coping with. You’ve got the group at Terminus; so wounded by their past experiences that they are even worse then the Walkers, killing the living to survive. Interestingly, this episode saw Carol regain some of her inner strength and soul, a poignant moment between her and Rick where she thanks him was enough to make you swiftly forgive her bad choices and welcome her back. Tears were shed in the final moments, when Rick and Carl discover Judith has been being looked after by Tyreese, and at that moment a glimmer of hop

the gang return for season five of the walking dead

the gang return for season five of the walking dead

e for the group was had. Oh, and the return of a character no one could forget puts this episode up there as the best pilot the show has had yet.

Stylish as ever, and pretty damn realistic considering the subject matter, No Sanctuary brought The Walking Dead back, and on staggeringly impressive form. A week feels way too long to wait for the next installment, but for now guesses can be made at whats in store over the next few episodes. The poster for this weeks episode read “Hunt or be hunted”; season five looks to be the grittiest yet. Welcome back.