Veteran actor Mykelti Williamson finds himself fighting for his life in The Purge: Election Year, the third film in the high concept horror-thriller series.
The Purge: Election Year is surely the most timely release in the US this year, with one of the country’s most bizarre races for the White House approaching its conclusion.
Fortunately the current mood in the States doesn’t reflect the events depicted in the film, in which a female senator is targeted for assassination on the one night of the year when crime and murder is legal for 12 hours. But star Mykelti Williamson notes that unless society changes, there is a real danger of heading the way of the Purge.
“It’s such a great idea, as bizarre as it is, because with society spinning out of control in certain pockets, you wonder where we’re going to end up,” he says. “It’s a fantastical place to end up, but it still has an essence of reality to it and you hope that we don’t end up in a place like that.
“Look at the mean-spiritedness of social media, how people just jump on and pile on a celebrity because of their looks, and out and out attack people,” he continues. “Right now it’s limited to social media, but what if it spins out of control and goes beyond that? We could end up with a real life Purge!”
Williamson plays Joe Dixon in The Purge: Election Year, a convenience store owner who’s content with making an honest living and holding on to his slice of the American pie. When Purge Night brings violence and anarchy to his neighbourhood, his store becomes a sanctuary for the hunted senator (Elizabeth Mitchell) and her chief of security (Frank Grillo), and a battle for survival begins.
The actor describes Joe Dixon as the guy next door who has got your back when you’ve got nowhere else to turn, and credits writer-director James DeMarco’s collaborative nature in allowing his character to inject some comic relief into an intense situation. “You have to give people some tension breaker moments and a chance to breathe, and then you can scare them all over again because they feel safe,” he says. “That’s what I could add, and it works great.”
Combining action, thriller and horror elements, as well as commentary on the state of social order, The Purge is a flexible franchise, and Williamson agrees that the concept is still ripe for further exploration in future films.
“One of the things we talked about is what if a couple of these main characters decide they’re going to get out of the United States and go to Australia or Paris, or anywhere else that does not have a Purge – and what if the Purge ends up in that place? There are so many possibilities.”
The Purge Election Year is out on DVD and Blu-ray from October 26.