Release date: 26th August 2016/Watch the trailer here
Election Year is the third and final chapter in the trilogy of Purge films; more similar in tone to the second instalment, Anarchy, with Frank Grillo reprising his role as former police sergeant Leo Barnes. The Purge films take place in a dystopian future society where ‘The New Founding Fathers of America’ (The NFFA) have been voted into office and sanctioned an annual ‘Purge’: a twelve-hour period during which all crime is legal and emergency services are unavailable, resulting in low unemployment and crime rates and a stronger economy.
In the aptly-titled Election Year, distrust of the New Founding Fathers has started to set in, with many believing that The NFFA are using the Purge to help their economic agenda. Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), whose entire family was brutally murdered in the Purge eighteen years ago, wants to eliminate the Purge completely, and is beginning to gain ground over the NFFA candidate in the upcoming Presidential election.
So far, so far-fetched. The idea of the Purge has always been a ridiculous one, but Election Year takes it even further, with mentions of ‘murder tourism’ – people travelling to the U.S. from other countries to take part in the Purge – and the ominous, cult-like New Founding Fathers, determined to wipe out their opposition on Purge night. The film follows Senator Roan and Barnes (now her head of security) across Washington, D.C. as they attempt to escape the Neo-Nazi force the NFFA have sent after her, as well as numerous purgers with malicious intentions.
Thankfully, no matter how far-fetched Election Year can be, its plot remains fast-paced and gripping; an action movie wrapped up inside a horror film. In fact, much of the action is far more complex, entertaining and well-choreographed than that you tend to see in films that are actually marketed as action movies.
The only factor which really tends to let Election Year down is some severe instances of overacting from some of the supporting cast. Thankfully, Grillo is there to bring a touch of grit, playing the guy who can pull bullets out of his body without even breaking a sweat. This is the sort of role that he’s perfect for, and the ensemble who team up with him to protect the Senator – deli owner Joe (Mykelti Williamson), his assistant Marcos (Joseph Julian Soria) and EMT Laney (Betty Gabriel) – feel equally real and grounded within the film’s far-fetched fantasy.
Election Year may be a little too on the nose when it comes to its politics, but in terms of horror and excitement, it’s easily the best in a trilogy which should be wearing thin by now. Although it feels like the final chapter, it ends with a hint at a sequel – but hopefully, if writer-director James DeMonaco knows what’s best, he won’t go there. It’s best to finish on a high note.