In the near future, the United States has solved a lot of its problems, but not rampant crime. To facilitate "fixing" this, the government sets up The Purge, an annual 12-hour period in which killing is legal and citizens are urged to go out and clean up the streets. Or stay home safely. That's the plan for James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family, who hunker down in their secure McMansion, in James DeMonaco's horror thriller.
If you've ever seen a movie, you know this is gonna be a long night for the Sandins. Sure enough, his son lets in a homeless man fleeing from marauders, the power goes out, and now there are threats from within and without.
Kill or be killed. Thou shalt not kill. Save your family by killing. Set an example for your family by not killing. Where is that extra flashlight? When not skulking about the pitch-dark house (a home so big that even the kids can't be found when they take off on sulks), the besieged occupants kind of debate these moral questions.
There are some provocative ideas that flicker in the shadows (the rich are literally killing the poor without consequence, for instance), but there isn't anything of substance here: It's a dark-house, jump-out-scare flick, with freaky masked killers and a baker's dozen of gruesome kills. And, I might add, plenty of set-up for The Purge 2. (Al Hoff)