James DeMonaco’s frenzied film franchise, The Purge, leaves most viewers horrified by the darkside of humanity, quaking behind their pillows and thanking god our social system would never allow these atrocities in real life.
But what if I were to tell you the events that take place in the films are actually inspired by real life massacres?
In case you missed it, The Purge, follows the story of one night every year in dystopian America when no rules apply. For 12 hours, all crime is legal: Burglary, theft, assault, rape, torture and even murder are all allowed during The Purge.
The concept is said to allow law-abiding citizens to rid themselves of any criminal tendencies, with a get out of jail free pass, thus creating a peaceful society for the remains of the year… And the results are horrifying.
But now, the film oracle Looper can reveal the scenes we see in the film are not relegated to fiction.
The Looper detectives delved into the history books, back to the days of the Roman Empire when Pagans celebrated the festival of Saturnalia as a precursor to Christmas each year.
Saturnalia was a week long period of lawlessness and debauchery that allowed citizens to do whatever the hell they wanted between the 17th and 25th of December. Citizens were encouraged to get intoxicated and act out their desires without fear of retribution, which often led to widespread vandalism and violence, as well as rape and murder.
DeMonaco’s films draw multiple parallels with the ancient holiday’s customs, one of which involved choosing a victim to be pushed to the brink of overindulgence.
The unlucky person would be fed like a King or Queen during the day and offered more physical pleasures in the evening, and at the festival’s conclusion they would be slaughtered by the authorities, who believed that in doing so they were destroying the forces of darkness and greed.
The Purge franchise has been criticised for glamorising said acts, and tragically, it even inspired one modern day killing spree.
A 19-year-old Indiana man, Jonathan Cruz was arrested in May 2016 and charged with the murders of Billy Boyd, 54, Jay Higginbotham, 40, and Jose Ruiz, 44.
An examination of Cruz’ phone allegedly found a text to his girlfriend which read:
U Better go on Face book and watch da videos of me shootin people… I Purge every night now.
Often the most horrifying stories are those dredged up from the dark corners of the human condition and our potential capacity for evil.
We shall all watch with baited breath as The Purge franchise gets more and more successful – it is now being turned into a TV series – and our awareness of the human psyche ominously encroaches.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.