The Purge

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The Purge
The Purge poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James DeMonaco
Produced by
Written by James DeMonaco
Music by Nathan Whitehead
Cinematography Jacques Jouffret
Edited by Peter Gvozdas
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
Running time
85 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3 million[2]
Box office $89.3 million[3]

The Purge is a 2013 American dystopian horror film written and directed by James DeMonaco and is the first installment in The Purge franchise. The film stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane and Max Burkholder as a family held hostage during "The Purge," an event during which all crime is legalized for 12 hours.

Despite mixed reviews, the film was commercially successful, grossing $89.3 million, far surpassing its $3 million budget. It was the lowest budget film to hit the top of the box office charts since 1988. A sequel, titled The Purge: Anarchy, was released worldwide on July 18, 2014 to even greater success.[4] A third movie, titled The Purge: Election Year, was released July 1, 2016. A fourth (currently untitled) movie is scheduled to be released on July 4, 2018.[5]


In 2014, the New Founding Fathers of America, a totalitarian political party portraying themselves as successors to the Founding Fathers of the United States, are voted into office following an economic collapse and pass the 28th Amendment which sanctions an annual national civic tradition called "The Purge," the first of which takes place in 2017. The Purge occurs for 12 hours, from 7 p.m. March 21 to 7 a.m. March 22, during which all crime is legal and all police, fire, and medical emergency services remain unavailable. Restrictions prohibit government officials "ranking 10" from being disturbed, as well as the use of all weapons above Class 4 (explosive devices such as grenades, rocket launchers, and bazookas). Violation of Purge rules results in a summary execution by hanging. The Purge has resulted in unemployment rates plummeting to 1%, low crime, and a strong economy.

On March 21, 2022, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke), a top salesman for elaborate security systems designed specifically for Purge Night, returns to his home in an affluent Los Angeles gated community to wait out the night with his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their two children, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder). The family is assured that the security system manufactured by James' company will keep them safe. Their neighbors attribute the size and fittings of the newly extended Sandins' house to his success in selling security products to them for Purge Night.

While the family awaits the start of the Purge, Zoey meets her boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller), an older boy whom James dislikes. James enables the security system, and as the Purge begins, the family disperses in their home to go about their normal routines.

Zoey returns to her room to unexpectedly find Henry, who managed to sneak back in before the security system was engaged, and says that he plans to confront her dad about their relationship. Meanwhile, Charlie watches the security monitors, and sees a wounded man (Edwin Hodge) calling for help. He temporarily disables the system to allow the man into the house. James races to re-engage the system and holds the man at gunpoint as Henry comes downstairs and pulls a gun on James. Henry fires at James and misses, but James fires back, mortally wounding and eventually killing Henry. During the chaos, the wounded man disappears and hides. James takes Mary and Charlie back to the security control room.

As James reprimands Charlie for letting the man into their home, they view over the surveillance cameras, where they witness a gang of masked young adults armed with guns, axes, and hammers arriving to the front lawn. Their leader (Rhys Wakefield) unmasks himself, compliments the Sandins on their support of the Purge, and then tells them that if they fail to surrender the man, they will be forced to "release the beast," implying they will forcefully enter the house and kill everyone inside. Mary asks James if the security system will help protect them, but James admits the system is essentially a security theater—it is only supposed to discourage potential invaders and would not actually protect them against heavy force. They decide to find the man and give him to the Purge gang outside, but after capturing the man, they realize they are no better than the gang waiting outside. They decide to spare the man, and defend themselves against the gang.

With their deadline having passed, the gang uses a truck to rip the metal plating off the front door, and enter the house. James fights back with a shotgun and kills several gang members before being mortally wounded by the gang leader. Charlie views the surveillance cameras, and notices their neighbors leaving their homes. The neighbors overpower and murder the gang. Elsewhere, Mary is subdued by two Purgers, one of whom tickle tortures her before almost killing her, but are both killed by the neighbors. As the gang leader prepares to kill the remaining Sandins, Zoey appears and kills him.

Mary thanks their neighbors for their support, but one of them, Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis), reveals their hatred for the Sandins due to their wealth acquired by the money the neighbors paid the Sandins with for various security products. They tie Mary, Charlie, and Zoey up with duct tape, pulling them out into the hallway to kill them. But as the neighbors make final preparations for the murder, the man re-appears, kills a neighbor (Tom Yi) with a Browning Hi-Power and holds Grace hostage, forcing the neighbors to free the Sandins. He asks if Mary wishes to kill the neighbors, but Mary spares them. Eventually, the sirens go off, announcing the end of the Annual Purge. The neighbors leave, and Mary thanks the man for his help, which he appreciates and bids the Sandins farewell.

News reports later state that this year's Purge is the most successful to date.


The Sandin family
The Neighbors
  • Arija Bareikis as Grace Ferrin
  • Dana Bunch as Mr. Ferrin
  • Chris Mulkey as Mr. Halverson
  • Tisha French as Mrs. Halverson
  • Tom Yi as Mr. Cali
The Purgers
  • Rhys Wakefield as Purge gang leader (credited as Polite Leader)
  • John Weselcouch as Interrupting Purger
  • Alicia Vela-Bailey as Female Tickling Purger
  • Aaron Kuban as Purger
  • Boima Blake as Purger
  • Nathan Clarkson as Purger
  • Chester Lockhart as Purger
  • Tyler Osterkamp as Purger
  • RJ Wolfe as Purger
  • Trazariah Shells as Purger
Other characters


The film premiered at the Stanley Film Festival on May 2, 2013[7] and released in cinemas on 31 May 2013 & 7 June 2013 in the United States.[8]

Home media[edit]

The Purge was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on October 8, 2013.


Critical reception[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes records a rating of 37% based on 140 reviews for The Purge, with a weighted average of 5.1/10, with the site's consensus stating, "Half social allegory, half home-invasion thriller, The Purge attempts to use thriller formula to make an intelligent point—but ultimately only ends up sinking in numbing violence and tired cliches."[9] The film holds a score of 41 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, signifying "mixed or average reviews".[10]

On io9, Charlie Jane Anders described it as "a clunky and implausible political screed in movie form."[11] Entertainment Weekly gave The Purge a B−, saying that it "clearly has a lot on its mind, but it never really manages to express it."[12]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, The Purge topped the box office with $16.8 million on opening day and $34.1 million through the entire weekend.[13] The film has collected $64.5 million domestically and $24.9 million outside the United States, for a total of $89.3 million worldwide, with a production budget of $3 million.[14]


Due to the success of the first film, a sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, was developed by Universal and Blumhouse. It was released worldwide on July 18, 2014. Set in 2023, a year after the first film.[15][16] Edwin Hodge (The Stranger) was the only cast member to reprise a role.

A third film, The Purge: Election Year, was released on July 1, 2016.[17]


The film was the theme for a scare zone in the 2013 edition of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was also used as a theme for a scare zone in the 2014 edition of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando. "The Purge" was featured at the Orlando park again in 2015, alongside other popular horror franchises such as "The Walking Dead," "Freddy vs. Jason," and "Insidious." [18]

In July 2014 the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre produced the play, Seinfeld: The Purge, which parodied both Seinfeld and The Purge.[19] The play, which was written by John Ford and directed by Justin Donaldson, focused on what each Seinfeld character would do during a purge; for example, George tries to kill a former friend from the Seinfeld episode "The Couch".[20] Horror news website Bloody Disgusting gave the play "four skulls" and praised the show for its acting and storyline.[21]

The Purge film itself and the concept of it were referenced numerous times during episode 9 of season 2 of the animated show Rick and Morty, where the two title characters become trapped on a "purge world".

The comedy film Meet the Blacks spoofs The Purge.

In an apparent copycat crime, from May 12 to May 16, 2016, Jonathan Cruz killed Billy Boyd, Jay Higginbotham, Steven Clark and Jose Ruiz. Prosecutor Terry Curry said that "Cruz told at least three people he was mimicking The Purge".[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Purge' (15)". British Board of Film Classification. April 30, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (2013-06-06). "Box office: Low-budget 'The Purge' expected to beat 'The Internship'". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Purge (2013) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Warning: The next Purge will take place on July 4, 2018". February 17, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  6. ^ The character's real name was revealed as "Dwayne" in The Purge: Anarchy.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys. "Ethan Hawke's The Purge to Open Inaugural Stanley Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Purge (2013) – International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Purge (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Bros. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Purge". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (2013-06-07). "The Purge could be this year's most hamfisted political movie". io9. Gawker Media. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  12. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (2013). "The Purge". Entertainment Weekly (1263): 72. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for June 7-9, 2013". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  14. ^ "The Purge (2013) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Purge has a sequel in development". 10 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Universal Re-Slots The Purge:". 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. "‘The Purge’ Scares Up Third Film With Director James DeMonaco - Deadline". Deadline. 
  18. ^ ""
  19. ^ "Seinfeld: The Purge". UCB Theater. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  20. ^ Cooper, Patrick. "What Would Seinfeld Do During 'The Purge'?". Blood Disgusting. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Cooper, Patrick. "[Review] Fans of "Seinfeld" Are Going to Flip for ‘Seinfeld: The Purge’". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  22. ^

External links[edit]