"Binge on Purge" might have been too on-the-nose as a title, right?
Like pretty much every movie from Blumhouse (Sinister, the Paranormal Activity series, Insidious), The Purge took place primarily inside one house, as a single family dealt with the consequences of a night during which most crime becomes temporarily legal. The intimate setting is partly for budgetary reasons, but also because producer Jason Blum cites "thinking someone's in the house at night" as his greatest fear - all his horror movies have that at that their core.
But once The Purge made a lot of money, it was clear it was going to have to move out of the house, like so many college students, and make something bigger of itself. Hence the movie sequel, which Blum promises will "spend a lot of time outside," and the horror attraction, which brings you into direct contact with the New Founders who created the Purge law...and the armed revolutionaries fighting them.
I had the chance to check it out for myself, and talk to both Blum and co-director Josh Randall.
The setting is pretty perfect - a building in downtown Los Angeles covered in populist slogans that make it perfect for co-opting by faux patriots. The seal of the New Founders - a highly weaponized American eagle - has been added.
Once you're inside, the lobby looks like that of a government building.
Large TV screens warn that the purge has begun, interspersed by propaganda from a pundit.
As the sun set, our experience was to begin.
one of these is my car
Initially, you enter a pitch black tunnel with no visibility whatsoever, as you must orient yourself around corners in the dark while random noises interrupt the silence. Then, in the dark, somebody pushes you through a tight space in the wall, and you emerge in an old-fashioned theater, seeing...the president.
I had asked the show's creators beforehand about the politics of the show. The movie tended to reflect a viewer's biases: conservatives saw the villain as Big Government gone amok, while liberals perceived an NRA-enhanced nightmare. Here's what Randall said (emphasis mine):
"...we don't have any overall government/political statement that we're making with this, but we are aware that by choosing government officials, and setting the show within the New Founder headquarters, that you are inherently making certain political statements just by who you cast and what happens to them. We've tried very hard to strike a balance between liberalism and conservatism, and really not have it be about either/or."
Translation: There's a black president who meets a bad end. And his enemies, the good guys of the piece, are called "Constitutionalists" and wear red. No statement there, right?
The president delivers platitudes to canned applause, as does his wife, but then we get to hear from their adopted white daughter, whose birth parents were murdered in the last Purge. She grudgingly talks about how great the whole thing is.