Happy Fourth of July to our American neighbours! To celebrate the American holiday Blumhouse Productions is releasing the fourth film in its Purge franchise, The First Purge. The timing of the release may cut a little too close to home for some viewers. But The Purge films have never shied away from political commentary. To date, each Purge movie has earned more than its predecessor on small budgets. As such, a prequel may seem unnecessary, but it was pretty much inevitable. To mark the prequel’s release, The Chopping Block lists the nine best villains across the franchise.
9 – Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis, The Purge)
The Purge wasn’t a great movie; it was a serviceable execution of a fascinating premise. Perhaps the best moment of The Purge comes at its climax. With the Sandins exhausted and captured, their neighbours arrive to save the day. Except the neighbours aren’t there to rescue the Sandins. No, they’ve shown up to ‘purge’ against them. Their jealously of the Sandin’s wealth achieved at their own expense delivered a biting commentary on American consumerism. Grace Ferrin, as the cordial face of this suburban contempt, was the perfect representation of the banal nature of evil.
8 – Old Elegant Woman (Judith McConnell, The Purge: Anarchy)
The Purge: Anarchy opened up the world of ‘The Purge’. It took the premise from a ‘home invasion‘ setting to city streets. reaping greater rewards. This expansion allowed writer and director James DeMonaco to explore the ‘class wars’ theme bubbling The Purge’s surface. Yes, the movie’s auction cuts at the nature of privilege that defines real-world oppression and violence. And privilege in the world of ‘The Purge’ is no better exemplified than by Judith McConnell’s ‘Old Elegant Woman’. As the enthusiastic MC for the human auction, the ‘Old Elegant Woman’s’ exaggerated facial expressions and dialogue delivery come together to create a truly vile villain.
7 – Uncle Sam (Roman Blat, The Purge: Election Year)
In terms of screen time and impact, ‘Uncle Sam’ doesn’t really do much in The Purge: Election Year. He’s more or less on this list for two reasons. First, the character design is downright cool and a thematically perfect fit for the franchise. There’s just something creepy about the mask, and the gun painted with the ‘stars and stripes’ adds some nice background commentary. Second, the concept of ‘murder tourists’ is a nice addition to ‘The Purge’ mythology and one I wished the sequel had opted to focus on.
6 – Earl Danzinger (Terry Serpico, The Purge: Election Year)
Let’s face it – Election Year’s primary antagonist is a step down from ‘Big Daddy’. In fact, the secondary villains of Anarchy are more memorable. Still the fault doesn’t lie with actor Terry Serpico who manages to bring a menacing presence to the role. Rather he just doesn’t have much to work with as Earl Danzinger, the New Founding Father’s para-military hitman. His placement this high up on the list owes to the social commentary of the character, intended or not. Danzinger’s Neo-Nazi roots are some eerie foreshadowing of our current political times.
5- Leader Caleb Warrens (Raymond J. Barry, The Purge: Election Year)
At some point in the franchise, one of the New Founding Fathers had to eventually surface as an antagonist. Leader Caleb Warrens, played by Raymond J. Barry, has only a small role in Election Year. Yet the character still perfectly exemplifies both the appearance and characteristics of the ‘one percent’. Arrogant and callous, his demise in the climatic church shoot-out is a highlight of the third film.
4- Big Daddy (Jack Conley, The Purge: Anarchy)
While he’s not necessarily the most compelling villain on this list, Anarchy’s ‘Big Daddy’ was arguably the major antagonist in the second film of the franchise. More of a background villain in Anarchy, ‘Big Daddy’ had a straightforward, white middle America look that worked well for the ‘class wars’ theme that was explored a little more as compared to the first film. Conley also has a blunt, commanding presence befitting of the character.
3- Freakbride/Kimmy (Brittany Mirabile, The Purge: Election Year)
True, she only has a small role. And, yes, the politicians are the real villains in Election Year. Nevertheless, Brittany Mirabile’s ‘Freakbride’ (or Kimmy) easily stands out as one of franchise’s the more vile villains. Maybe it’s her brash sense of entitlement. Or perhaps it’s Mirabile’s heel-delivery of her dialogue. Regardless the ‘Freakbride’ inspires exactly the kind of contempt you need from villains. In addition, her ‘Purge’ mask and costume give the character just enough menace to make for a compelling threat.
2 – The Polite Stranger (Rhys Wakefield, The Purge)
Articulate, intelligent, and brimming with rage, the ‘Polite Stranger’ was the ideal villain for The Purge. At their heart, The Purge movies are about the innate violence that resides in each of us. Portrayed by Rhys Wakefield, the ‘Polite Stranger’ was the perfect representation of the concept. At face value, he exemplified how social niceties mask our more primal urges. Like a mini-Patrick Bateman, ‘The Polite Stranger’ exuded a smarmy personality. And his dialogue delivery had you counting down to the moment where he would finally get his comeuppance.
1 – Young Ghoul Face (Lakeith Stanfield, The Purge: Anarchy)
No, he doesn’t say much in the movie. And he’s really just a secondary antagonist in the rapidly growing ‘Purge’ mythology. Yet Lakeith Standfield’s ‘Young Ghoul Face’ is probably the franchise’s scariest villain. Maybe it’s that simply creepy mask? Or perhaps it’s the menacing gestures? Whatever it is, ‘Young Ghoul Face’ has just the right presence and demands attention whenever he is on screen. Marketers obviously clued in to Stanfield’s ominous presence. Take a look at the movie’s marketing – the character features prominently.