I give James DeMonaco a ton of credit, because when I first heard about The Purge, I shrugged off the idea as another mainstream horror blunder waiting to happen. The government pardons all laws for a night full of murder, bloodshed, and every other despicable act in the book, and innocents get caught in the fray? Yeah, well, here I am a year later, eating my words while being genuinely excited for its sequel, The Purge: Anarchy. Funny how life works out, but The Purge really broke open the home invasion genre in ways that gave me a serious case of the willies, and now DeMonaco will swing for the fences by taking us into the eye of the Purge – hope you brought your killin’ boots.
A few weeks back I visited Coney Island to talk with James about his upcoming movie, and while the weather was threatening, our conversation wasn’t hindered in the least. Sitting down for a solid 20 minute nerd-out session, James and I discussed The Purge at length, thinking up all the different directions this horrific event could branch next, and I’m pretty sure I gave the writer/director enough ideas for a Purge 3, 4, and 5 – which I’ll of course be expecting royalties on.
Read on to discover what ideas James possibly has that could continue our lust for purging and why he loves Frank Grillo’s car so damn much. Of course, there’s also mention of The Warriors, since The Wonder Wheel was only a stone’s throw away. H
ope you enjoy learning a thing or two about DeMonaco’s Purge universe – now let’s see if I get a writing credit if there’s another sequel!
WGTC: OK, if there’s going to be a Purge 3, it has to be Michael K. Williams’ rise. It has to!
James DeMonaco: That’s the seed that was purposefully planted…I don’t know if we’ll be lucky enough to do it, but I purposefully planted him in there, and I made sure I got Michael K. Williams who I love…all very purposeful. When he emerged in the test screening, people went nuts. I never saw anything like it!
WGTC: Now, The Purge: Anarchy is a lot more political, your characters end up in the “business district” where all the Wall Street fat cats work, so you obviously wanted to go in this direction – but were you cautious about becoming too preachy?
James DeMonaco: Listen, it’s a fine line, and a lot of my producers did yell at me, saying I couldn’t be that political, but the studio was actually on board with the idea, which surprised me. Universal was like, “Absolutely, let’s make a movie that works on two levels, as entertainment but also as a film that will make people think.” I think sometimes I pushed it to places where they’d get a little nervous, all my thoughts and philosophies were seeping in, but I tried to get as much in as possible – the whole market mentality and my thoughts on guns in America.
It’s a fine line when you’re trying to make a statement about violence while you’re also depicting violence. It’s a very, very fine line on the glorification of violence. It’s weird, when people ask me that – I find violence so scary, I never feel like I’m glorifying it. I’m terrified when a gun is even raised at someone, so it’s such a subjective thing because it’s utilized as something I’d never want to emulate, but obviously people do. I don’t think movies cause violence, I think what causes someone to pick up a gun is so complex, being a mental illness on a level that’s giving movies too much credit to even mention being part of it. Hey, the rest of the world sees the same movies we do, so I think it’s a definite problem we have in America right now. But yes, it’s a fine line, even though I never look at any violence as glorified, I get the fear of it.
WGTC: But you’re using violence in a way that’s not glorifying it – the violence is actually a character. The Purge is this huge event, you need it…
James DeMonaco: Oh, I hope people don’t look at it and go, “That’s cool!” – but I guess there are people that do. That’s what freaks me out more than the movie, that someone out there can think that. Someone asked me about the scene where Diego comes in, and I thought that was absolutely horrifying. In no way was that glorification. I want to run from that guy! So I guess I just get confused about the question itself sometimes – I get the fear of it.