The Seasoning House **

‘Unpleasant’ is the word that comes to mind to describe The Seasoning House – and not necessarily in a complimentary fashion either for such a thriller. This description is not only for the obvious and upsetting subject matter of sex slavery during wartime but also how debut director Paul Hyett uses this a little too lightly as a premise for a revenge film, without making any kind of reasonable statement at the end. What you are effectively left with is misogynistic titillation that is uncomfortable to watch.

Though The Seasoning House does offer a solid and beguiling performance from its lead, film newcomer Rosie Day, who plays dishevelled mute Angel subjected to working in a Balkan brothel and making the drugged girls ‘presentable’ for their clients, it’s deeply worrying to think exactly who this film is aimed at and why?

Part of the problem is the lack of gritty cinematography, no fly-on-the-wall scenario that would help make the whole affair more pseudo-documentary-like and hence more real and horrific. It’s all too stylised to enhance the seriousness of the situation that these imprisoned young girls find themselves in.

Though the ultimate idea is to rally behind Angel as you watch her grow in strength and raise havoc for her captors and abductors through the walls of the derelict building, there’s just not enough sympathy built up for her over the course of the first half to create a decent bloody revenge momentum. Most of the time it feels like all her actions are egocentric (and not just as a survival mechanism), not considering the girls at all. Indeed, the character’s mute state only goes to hinder any mounting empathy for her. You also can’t help wonder that if she had the key to freedom and the owner’s consent as his ‘special girl’, why didn’t she take it? There is just not enough invested in the script to fully understand her own self-turmoil and what keeps her confined and what drives her to fight, short of feeling something kindred with one of the girls.

The end result is something very superficial for such a subject matter. It boils down to a claustrophobic staged set showing gagged and tied up young women in various stages of disarray, without a hint of the serious psychological side effects involved – albeit, a few wandering, blurry camera moves to portray a frightening, drug-induced coma from time to time.

Nothing feels that fresh either, however exciting the chase scenes might be at times, and nerve-shredding some moments are. The sense of just tasting freedom does not come across fully – there are no definitive highs and lows that you would associate with such a revenge film to take you on an emotional journey too. It’s all too much graphic content for entertainment’s sake. There is a hollow feeling, a need to really tap into Angel’s (and the others’) fear that is sorely lacking. It’s all a shame and equally frustrating, as the sex trade on screen should be dealt with, with the utmost care and attention to really drive the message home about the atrocities committed, and therefore, be more effective as a thriller too.

2/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

Snitch ***

Dwayne Johnson usually plays larger-than-life, powerhouse characters, full of wise retorts, rippling muscle and fixed stares. In Snitch, he attempts to tone down this full-frontal ‘The Rock’ assault a notch or three, going for serious drama in a fact-based story about drugs, their consequences and the somewhat harsh US laws. Although veering into the absurd at times, Snitch is still a surprisingly solid watch from Felon writer-director and former stuntman Ric Roman Waugh that plays to Johnson’s strengths for those still wanting to see the actor triumph over adversity and dispel with some baddies.

As synopses go, first read suggests this film is way farfetched before viewing even begins; a father going undercover (and it even being authorised) for the DEA, in order to free his naïve teenage son who is in line for a lengthy prison term after being part of a drug deal. Actually, Johnson plays John Matthews, an influential businessman who uses his company’s haulage business resources to assist drug running between the US and Mexico so that he can help deliver one of the bigger fish as part of his son’s release. In this respect, believability is still intact, and Johnson instantly wins us over in his character’s attempts to take on Goliath. The action is a little more realistic with Johnson taking some blows rather than knocking seven bells out of several bodies at once with apparent ease.

That said the build up to the actual tense, nail-biting action is a tad drawn out as we are left in no doubt at Matthews’s family values. Indeed, those with teen kids will appreciate the film’s sentiments and question how they’d react. The rest of the story – once the gushy father-son stuff is laid on thick – relies on us being fully on Matthews’s side, however dubious some of his business dealings are. If there hadn’t been an element of truth to the tale too, the idea that the DA (played by Susan Sarandon) would allow such a compromise to happen is a little incredible too, and this still requires a leap of faith to keep the momentum going.

Johnson actually surprises all by delivering some of his finest and earnest work to date in this largely less physical part. In fact it’s a relief that he’s a bog standard businessman man and not some former government agent since retired. In this respect, you are kept guessing as to how things will pan out and whether this father can keep his nerve when faced with the big guns. There is also a healthy element of vulnerability to Johnson’s character that is also refreshing to see him portray. The start does play to each and every cliché in the book but Waugh nicely balances out action with a human emotion, resulting a stirring ride.

As Matthews gets in further over his head and the DA allows more daring stings to operate, things do get increasingly ridiculous, however much we want to see a pumped Johnson cause serious carnage. Plus you do wonder why no one seems to listen to Agent Cooper’s (well played by Barry Pepper) obvious doubts at using Matthews as a civilian pawn. Would the authorities really let this happen in reality? Indeed, why would a top drug kingpin (played by Benjamin Bratt) be so quick to trust Matthews? Surely just following his movements in a day would highlight how careless he is in his meetings with the DEA? These are just some of the implausible points that lessen plot credibility.

Nevertheless, the casting is well done and there is a nice character arc at play for Jon Bernthal as two-time criminal and family man Daniel on the way to his third strike out who is conned into helping Matthews by introducing him to his drug world connections. Sarandon’s on-off part could have been played by anyone but she at least lends another big-hitting name to the film.

Overall Snitch aims to entertain and yank a parental heartstring. It also shows everyone involved in the film in a good light, especially Johnson as comfortable in a less physically demanding part as well as opening up other possibilities for the actor. It’s just as events unfold, it lessens the effect (to make some think twice about drug dealing in the US in particular) and with things becoming a little incredulous, cultivates in a forehead-slapping ending that does raise the odd snigger. Still, Johnson is always an appealing presence on screen, whatever he is doing, especially when putting wrongs to right with gutsy determination.

3/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

World War Z ***

Brad Pitt tries his hand at some zombie dodging in Quantum of Solace director Marc Foster’s new latter-day nightmare, World War Z. Just the title alone strikes fear into our hearts of global wipe-out, least an epidemic that could kill off mankind through some failing of our own making. It’s this that initially sets the chills for this epic, followed by Pitt as former UN investigator Gerry Lane witnessing the first chilling and swift transformation of humans into zombies in the midst of NYC’s rush hour. Naturally, he has his family to save before the rest of the planet – you get the drift thereafter.

The plot is such that retired Lane is brought back (kicking and screaming) into the fore to help investigate the root cause of the rapid zombie transformation that is spreading like wildfire across the global. The chase ends in Wales (the location of W.H.O. HQ) where Lane is on the trail of a possible deterrent…

Let’s face it, it’s Pitt, hubby of Jolie and real-life ambassador of various global causes, so stretching the imagination to picture him in this role is hardly an issue. Indeed, dressed in globetrotting, frontline journo attire, he depicts a humble picture full of strength and purpose, as well as a softer side of a man who cares. As it’s Pitt, his name alone will seal the deal at the cinema. The second thing to guarantee intrigue is just how much attention Foster has paid to his special effects in this countlessly re-written final product; the swarm-like the zombies multiplying, in particular, like some video game on speed. There is a fantastic shot of the mounting Undead trying to break into Israel’s Holy Land, followed by a breakdown of the defences that sticks in the mind long after viewing.

The rest feels rather like other apocalyptic action dramas we’ve seen before, from Contagion to Perfect Sense to Zombieland itself (minus the dark humour). It seems downtown NYC is always hit first with flying debris that always ‘just’ misses our fleeing hero and family. Plus there’s the regulation offshore Naval vessel housing the best technology can offer, as well as sanctuary for top brass, all kitted out ready (having been tipped off from the start). Still, with elements copied straight out of other dramas, there are some nice one-to-one moments of action between Pitt and others in the calmer moments between zombie feasting, where Pitt can demonstrate Lane’s humanitarian nature and family-man caring side.

All Lane’s tireless zombie dodging that leads him around the world (including Korea etc) ends in Wales (of all places). The answer to the Earth’s human demise lies in Pitt as Lane creeping around laboratories trying not to disturb an (unintentionally) hilarious bunch of brain-dead scientists gumming the windows. It’s not so much terrifying but does provide a few thrilling moments and jumps, complete with Malcolm Tucker aka actor Peter Capaldi biting his nails as he watches the ‘action’ unfold. The ending is as clichéd as they come but is order restored? It doesn’t really matter, as long as Pitt wins the day (for now).

3/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

Summer in February ***

Nothing quite stirs the emotions than a love triangle, and a period love triangle at that, set at the turn of the 19th Century where reserved nature and stuffy social standing all but marred many burning fledgling romances. The frustrations felt fuel the desire to see love served correctly and make for engaging cinematic material.

Indeed, director Christopher Menaul and writer Jonathan Smith need us to feel such frustration and empathy toward their heroine, Florence, a fair lady of social pedigree, strangled by her own social constraints but screaming out to let rip her artistic flare. With the delicately featured, bud-lipped Emily Browning in the lead role, it’s a promising start. That said it’s one that gradually ebbs away at our initial affections for Florence, making her less like the usual fabled vulnerable heroine that cements such a triangle – and indeed such a tale, and more like the insolent hussy who deserves her lot.

Based on Smith’s acclaimed novel of the same name about a real-life group of carefree Cornish artists, the wild and bohemian Lamorna Group, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Browning) goes to visit her brother and learn more about her craft. However, she becomes not only a muse for the painters but also ‘the lady of the moment’ at the centre of a complex love triangle, involving the poetic and passionate anti-Modernist Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper) and his best friend, the land agent in charge of the Lamorna Valley estate, Gilbert Evans (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens).

Unsurprisingly, it’s Menaul’s locations that initially warms our hearts like a big mug of local brew, the dreamy idea of idyllic, creative living beside the Cornish coastline. The scene is set and Menaul’s charismatic fool, Munnings, is given his grand romantic entrance, stubbornly and lavishly played by Cooper who steals every scene he occupies. Since Cooper’s The Duchess days, there is very little to criticise here, and the actor delivers a fine, tormented performance with a big, plump underbelly of devilish darkness to his persona. Cooper aptly blends irresponsible rogue and wounded victim into one intriguing character whose misdemeanours can be blamed under the guise of ‘art’.

So far, TV romance-series veteran Menaul has the right blend of actor and location, further enhanced by Stevens who lives and breathes the ‘stiff upper-lipped’ type of gentleman since Downton, the silent, brooding type who must sacrifice his own needs for honour and duty. However, with comfy stereotypes in place to prop up the triangle, it’s actually a distinct lack of real passion needed to build proceedings into a tragic crescendo that lets the sides down. This is where the exquisitely written book gets lost on screen and also robs us of the fascinating insight into the minds of the Cornish art community. Although Smith is naturally sympathetic to the anguished situation, this group and their art merely act as a colourful backdrop to a very average but watchable love triangle in practice.

Browning effortlessly represents the fragile beauty of Florence, ironic considering her uninhibited Sleeping Beauty role, but altogether fitting as she swaps one susceptible female for another. However ballsy and forward-thinking Florence is for the time, the lack of inferred passion means the character’s actions are her ruination to the point that her demise has little emotive impact. We are subsequently left with no one to champion, as Evans merely provides the reality check and Munnings the resentment.

It’s an altogether hollow feeling that results in a love triangle story played out by numbers – albeit it very succinctly by Menual’s hand.  Still, there’s always the Cornish sunset to swoon over, and Smith’s novel to read, perhaps, before watching as a prompt to fill in the emotional gaps?

3/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

 

Man Of Steel ****

Prepare for a darker, more brooding Superman film than before, hardly surprising given The Dark Knight Rises creator Christopher Nolan’s hand in this, co-writing with his Batman collaborator David Goyer. If the mood does not absorb you into the trials and tribulations of being a superhuman on Earth, then director Watchmen Zack Snyder’s action-packed scenes will whisk you along in what is more blockbuster epic with obvious tones of Transformers (cinematography by Amir Mokri), Spider-Man (costume design by James Acheson) and even The Matrix and Avatar with the organic nature of a visually stunning Krypton. It’s a mash-up of all recent superhero films, without a shred of deliberate humour to it that Superman films of past had.

The story is a familiar one, with the baby Superman known as Kal-El being propelled into the solar system by his parents, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), on route to Earth, after an environmental catastrophe ruins and condemns Krypton to extinction. With him, Kal-El takes the last DNA of all Kryptonians, against the expressed wishes of General Zod (Michael Shannon) who attempts to stage a military coup to save his planet but is imprisoned with his fellow officers.

Growing up on Earth, Kal-El becomes known as Clark Kent (adult Superman played by Henry Cavill), adopted child of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane). Taught to hide his gift by his parents, Clark eventually works a series of jobs before one unintentionally exposes him to Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and sends a call sign to the escaped Zod and his army as to where to find him and the lost DNA. Earth becomes a battleground, fighting for its own survival and that of its species, with the help of Superman.

Although lengthy at 143 minutes, Snyder, Nolan and Goyer’s film does a stunning job of explaining more about the historical and environmental issues that came to send Kal-El to Earth. The organic and kaleidoscopic, if phallic visuals of the beginning part of the film are like a Star Wars/Avatar epic, which go to show the various elements in conflict on the planet. It provides a background like no other Superman film, injecting some originality into the life of DC Comics’ hero’s story.

The rest of the film is pure adrenaline rush: visual effects-heavy, set pieces that are totally reminiscent of the recent Transformers films and even the ‘parasitic’ actions of Zod’s organic ship plundering the Earth’s resources resembling the final scenes of The Avengers. The filmmakers even almost replicate the Thor standoff in a small Kansas town, with Superman against two of Zod’s troops. For some, the crash-zooms and super-whizzy effects may be a little overkill – and some feel overly long, but on the flip side, they do inject a huge surge of power into the notion of Superman and his abilities on Earth with destructive and awesome results.

Snyder’s casting cannot be faulted either. Cavill brings a more serious and sensitive Superman to the big screen, one more determined to unite the two species than ever before, dressed in a costume borrowed from Spider-Man. It’s a far more physically demanding role that merely zooming off into the sky; the controlled strength of the man is what is more on show here. Shannon owns Zod, his contorted facial expressions fit the part of a highly conflicted being. It is also quite intriguing that rather than pure murderous despot, the filmmakers have created a being with morals and a purpose that brings a bout of empathy for his cause, making him not so black in the black-and-white scenario.

Adams keeps Lane grounded and forever spirited in her endeavours, though where the story lacks is the idea of just how Kent and her really fall for one another, given we don’t see Kent join the paper until the end – granted, the physical attraction of Superman is enough alone, and Cavill fills the mesh-like suit to the average jumper exceedingly well, enough to have an army of admirers at his heels.

There are also some nice performances from Costner and Lane, the former is part of a nice subplot into how Kent controls his son’s urges and talent, even when tragedy faces them. Perhaps, Crowe’s appearance as the great Jor-El could be argued to consume more than enough screen time – the filmmakers get there money from his ghostly presence, like some Obi-Wan Kenobi-style character (again, paying homage to Star Wars).

There is probably an unnecessary, almost overindulgent ending between Superman and Zod, purely it seems to show the latter’s true allegiance with humankind – as if we weren’t aware of this already. This climax will divide opinion. Still, with demands from fans for more raw power and action from their superhero, and with a villain in Zod who is more on a par of strength, Snyder and co have gone to create something more relevant and darker (with Nolan’s touch), however much the other iconic elements of previous films (crippling Kryptonite and the dominant ‘S’ symbol) are played down in effect.

4/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

The Iceman****

Michael Shannon first came to our attention fully in psychological hurricane drama Take Shelter back in 2011. Since then his natural talent for subtly portraying emotionally scarred characters dealing with inner personal turmoil has captivated and fascinated. Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman in which the actor plays the lead of the same name is the cream of the crop, a truly mesmerising turn by Shannon that allows him to cultivate all his ugly thoughts into one brooding menace – helped by the fact that this is based on a true story. It is a performance worth catching before he becomes better known for being the latter-day General Zod in the forthcoming Man of Steel to show the full versatility of the man.

The Iceman is based on the real-life goings-on of Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski (Shannon) who worked for Newark’s DeCavalcante crime family and New York City’s Five Families. Kuklinski is said to have murdered over 100 men, possibly up to 250, between 1948 and 1986, while living the other half of his double live as a husband and father in a quite suburban life with a wife and two children. Kuklinski earned his icy nickname after freezing victims’ corpses in an industrial freezer to disguise the time of death.

Matching Kuklinski in height to produce a towering force, Shannon is like a curious ticking time bomb in this, whose Jekyll-and-Hyde persona allows the actor to combine moments of measured calm and unexpected sensitivity when it comes to his family with explosive rage in a deadly profession. Vromen’s film captures an awkward, almost shy Kuklinski in his early courting days around future wife Deborah Pellicotti, played by Winona Ryder. With both Shannon and Ryder’s easy knack for playing the vulnerable, these scenes have an almost endearing fragility and innocence to them, allowing The Iceman to show a small flicker of humanity and purpose other than killing. In this respect we come to sympathise with his determination to protect what matters, making his character less two-dimensional and all the more unpredictable.

On the flip side, Shannon’s bug-eyed intensity and fixed stare ensure the chilling tension gloriously simmers ready to escalate at the drop of a hat. It’s this alone that keeps the film’s momentum in full flow masking what is in effect an average gangster thriller along the same lines as Ray Liotta’s paranoid family man Henry Hill in Goodfellas, with a charismatic lead character going haywire at the fore. Whereas Liotta’s had a black comedy value to it, as did the whole of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film, Shannon’s is purely nefarious, helped by the gritty, subdued and richly contrasting cinematography. As with most serial killers’ escapades on screen, the bloody death toll mounts and becomes desensitising after a while with the real nail-biting thrill being Kuklinski’s imminent demise.

Naturally, no Mafia film would be complete without an appearance by Liotta who plays the steely cold and unhinged crime boss Roy Demeo with unsurprising ease, though Liotta ratchets up the malice in this, more so than we have seen him do so before in this genre. There is also a nice and virtually unrecognisable performance from Chris Evans as Mr Freezy, the ice-cream-van-driving hitman who inspired Kuklinski’s deep-freeze methods, proving this actor has intriguing and yet unplucked strings to his bow than the average superhero portrayal.

With a dynamic Shannon at the helm doing what he does best, Vromen’s film has an out-of-control vehicle to drive it up the box office listings, coupled with a healthy interest in the movements of one notorious serial killer, however complacent and conventional the rest of the film feels – admittedly, hard to escape from within the Mafia gangster genre. Again, this simply re-emphasises the urgent need to witness Shannon terrorising the frame before Superman swoops in.

4/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

Byzantium ***

Think ‘Twilight on the English Rivera’ but all the more seedier and desolate, Neil Jordan style. The director who admits to being ‘fascinated by monsters and monstrous people’ shows a sensitive side to the plight of the creatures of the night in his latest film Byzantium, taking note of the recent appeal of vampire films for female audiences after his male-dominated Interview With A Vampire back in 1994, but not necessarily following all the traditional attributes of the genre.

Gone are the tantalising romantic notions of erotica to be distorted into brazen carnal sexuality and the use of female ways to survive in a current-day environment – as ever with Jordan’s Catholic spin of bodily sin injected and a little social economics, reflecting today’s gloomy austerity. However, the familiar bond is still very much alive in this, complete with two empowering performances from Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan.

Two mysterious women – creative, sensitive Eleanor (Ronan) and the wilder, older Clara (Arterton) flee to a coastal town, hiding a dark bloody secret. They take shelter within the town’s underground trade routes, familiar to both, hiding from those who seek to destroy them after an ancient right of passage is broken.

In film theory, independent women usually get punished for their wayward ways, especially where sexuality is explored. Along the same tropes, Jordan’s attempt at Gothic suggests no good will come from the antics of his female leads here, however endearing and conscientious Eleanor is deemed to be. That said there is apparent empathy, where the director again masterfully creates subtle moods between the pair that are sensed, without having to explore them as part of the discourse. He also champions these females in the end, making an altogether compelling feminine affair and pouring scorn on those who deny female dominance, or indeed, that of change within stubborn institutions.

Ronan’s ever-considered performance always makes her an exciting watch as she explores the character’s depths, choosing to inject principles into the standard vampire feeding affair and prompting comment on the ethics of euthanasia. In a way, Jordan tries too hard to flesh out more avenues of interest than the normal bloodsucker behaviour which kind of works, but at the same time, gets diluted as the plot moves between extravagant costume drama and present-day social despair essay. Arterton comes across as slightly uneasy in the downtrodden vice girl role, but soon regains familiar ground when the fight is on and she can be feisty once more. Nevertheless, both actors are compelling to watch and compliment each other nicely.

The males come off the worse in this, with no titillating whiff of Cullen sensuality, ranging from a sickly waiter (Caleb Landry Jones) who Eleanor adopts as a pet project and a way of redeeming herself and Clara, to a miserable, pushover of a guesthouse proprietor (Daniel Mays). Jonny Lee Miller’s vampire character Ruthven poses an intriguing, alpha male threat that fizzes out as the pursuit draws to a climax. There is even the suggestion of a sequel as the story is left, should Byzantium succeed and grab the vamp fan’s imagination. However, without a decent dollop of lust and more of a grim social picture, this could be a hard sell to the ready-made audience of Twihards, and not dark enough or steeped in enough folklore to entice serious Gothic enthusiasts either, even with the promise of an attractive and solid female casting.

3/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter

The Purge ***

Imagine a night where any crime is legal, including murder. Who would you ‘purge’ given half a chance? Writer-director James DeMonaco’s The Purge is more frightening in concept than conception, though it’s still a solid and watchable affair. It doesn’t offer any new chills that other under siege-style horrors haven’t already. It’s also not as creepy as Paranormal Activity or Sinister – though producer Jason Blum’s influence is apparent having worked on all three. However, The Purge’s initial strength before the mayhem begins is fuelling that deep-seated fear of lawlessness and loss of control, heightened by the horn that signals the start of ‘anything goes’ – including our viewing journey.

It’s America but one of the near future where employment is at one per cent and crime is virtually unheard of, thanks to a government-sanctioned, 12-hour period where any and all criminal activity, including murder, becomes legal. The Purge is a night of citizen rule designed to clean the streets of undesirables. Some go out to purge, while others like the Sandins stay at home behind metal barricades until the 7am siren sounds the end. However, this time, when a distressed intruder breaks into their home, the family must make a moral decision that could cost them their own lives.

Like Paranormal Activity or Sinister, The Purge is most successful when it relies on the power of voyeurism through CCTV to titillate, waiting for the action to play out into screen, and in so doing, building up our anticipation of the first big scare. The rest is a cat-and-mouse chase through darkened corridors and rooms in a plush and expensive abode with some satisfying jumpy moments. That said it does suffer from prompting its next move at times that lessens the impact. It could also have been a lot darker by toying with and exploring the psychological effects, but it’s more content with funny-looking masked characters popping out of dark corners with little imagination spent on how.

The Purge also suffers from that saccharin Hollywood horror gloss, more concerned with how attractive its characters and their lifestyle look – even when wounded and blooded – than getting downright ugly and twisted. In that respect, Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are perfectly adequate in their roles, but there’s none of the tortured appeal of Hawke’s author character Ellison Oswalt in Sinister.

The standout performance comes from Rhys Wakefield as the polite, smiling stranger who comes a-knocking at the Sandins with his frenzied band of well-to-do flower power kids. Wakefield’s character represents the worst nature of the privileged that this night of legalised slaughter truly benefits behind a real, live mask of his own. It’s his chilling social commentary that is the most terrifying to contemplate as he explains in a maniacal but disturbingly reasonable fashion into CCTV camera why he is acting as he does. Like a present-day A Clockwork Orange character, he has an intelligent but alarmingly unhinged and mysterious persona, making him all the more effective in delivery.

Equally shocking and uncomfortable to watch is the chosen target of the night who takes refuge in the Sandins’ home. There’s no mistaking the racial cleansing connotations here, and the labelling of certain groups deemed more responsible for reported crime. In that respect, DeMonaco’s film challenges engrained social stereotypes, say, with rough sleepers – do pay attention to the target’s attire. It even poses the question of what secrets are kept inside America’s gated communities who are perhaps as culpable. The story has an end twist that with hindsight is set up at the start. Again, the film’s strength is in what is not actually being said. The Purge offers an intellectual debate first and foremost, rather than any memorable shocks and horrors. It also exposes a new talent for acting the madman in Wakefield, leading to exciting things to come. DeMonaco should be happy to be instrumental in that.

3/5 stars

By @FilmGazer

Follow on Twitter