The First Purge

The First Purge is a 2018 American dystopian action horror film directed by Gerard McMurray and starring Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, and Steve Harris. Written and co-executive produced by James DeMonaco, it is the first film of The Purge series not to be directed by him.

The First Purge
The First Purge poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGerard McMurray
Written byJames DeMonaco
Produced by
CinematographyAnastas Michos
Edited byJim Page
Music byKevin Lax
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • July 4, 2018 (2018-07-04) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$13 million[2]
Box office$137.1 million[2]

It is the fourth installment in the Purge franchise. The film is a prequel depicting the origins of the annual "Purge", a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America, including murder, rape and arson, is legal; it originates as an experiment confined to Staten Island with the promise that those who stay on the island for its duration will be paid a large sum of money, but a new political party, the New Founding Fathers, is determined to get the results they want by any means necessary.

The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, by Universal Pictures. It has grossed over $137 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing entry in the franchise, but received mixed reviews from critics like its predecessors. The fifth installment, The Forever Purge, was released on July 2, 2021.


In an alternate 2014, rising unemployment, lack of jobs, rising inflation and a housing crisis leads to the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), led by U.S. president Bracken, to replace the Democrats and Republicans as the most powerful political party in the United States. A crazed drug addict named Skeletor discusses his dark thoughts, including his desire to "purge" and unleash his hatred on other people. An NFFA employee tells Skeletor that he can very soon.

Two years later, in 2016, NFFA chief of staff Arlo Sabian and sociologist Dr. May Updale announce an experiment to take place on Staten Island where for 12 hours, citizens will be allowed to purge and release their inhibitions in any way they choose, including murder. The NFFA offers residents $5,000 to stay during the experiment, with additional compensation if they join the purge and survive. They also outfit the participants with contact lens cameras so that they can monitor all activity and put tracking devices in them so they will know if they try to leave the island.

Low-lying drug kingpin and businessman Dmitri tells his dealers that they will not be leaving the island, as moving his large amounts of money and product will draw too much attention, and tells them to stay in a safe house and lay low. Dealer Capital A decides to defy this order and go out and purge, while newbie dealer Isaiah is attacked and injured by Skeletor. Isaiah goes to his sister Nya, an anti-Purge activist and Dmitri's ex-girlfriend, for treatment. As people flee Staten Island, Nya joins her friends Dolores, Luisa, and Selina in a church to wait out the Purge. Dmitri has stayed behind; Anna and Elsa, two prostitutes, are sent by his dealers to his office to keep him company. Skeletor commits the first Purge murder, and the video recorded by the NFFA goes viral. The NFFA also observe that most of the crimes taking place are minor ones such as looting, vandalism, disorderly conduct, and public disturbances like loud parties, as opposed to the expected violent ones like murder.

Isaiah secretly joins the Purge to get his revenge on Skeletor. He eventually confronts him during the Purge but cannot shoot him. Isaiah runs off and into more purgers, before hiding and calling Nya for help. Anna and Elsa are revealed to be Purgers who attempt to kill Dmitri, but Dmitri fights them off and learns that Capital A had sent them in an attempt to take over Dmitri's business. Skeletor captures Nya in the streets and attempts to rape her, but Isaiah wounds him and they escape. Capital A and his crew go to Dmitri's office to thank Anna and Elsa for killing Dmitri, but Dmitri and his gang ambush him and kill them all, except for Anna and Elsa, who are told to never return to Staten Island. Nya and Isaiah return to the church to see blood-soaked white supremacist bikers leaving it. Although Nya's friend Luisa and her daughter Selina survive, Dolores' fate is unknown. They all return to Nya's apartment, where Dolores eventually manages to make it safely.

Meanwhile, at the NFFA headquarters, Updale becomes suspicious of a sudden increase in murder, along with the presence of masked participants. As she reviews the video footage of the Purge and notices vans full of masked killers arriving, she realizes to her horror that the masked participants are trained mercenary groups killing multiple civilians. Sabian explains that he sent the mercenaries to make the experiment look successful, and eventually to help balance the wealth disequilibrium amongst the rich and the poor. Updale protests this tampering, realizing that the NFFA only wants to eradicate the poor to save the expense of social programs. Knowing that his corruption has been exposed, Sabian has Updale taken to Staten Island and executed, before erasing all footage of the event.

Dmitri and his gang escape through the streets, until unknown assailants attack them. Dmitri disposes of them all and discovers they are mercenaries. Realizing they were sent by the NFFA, who had also dumped weapons into the neighborhood to provoke participation, Dmitri and his crew decide to take a stand against them and protect the neighborhood. After saving local shop owner and friend Freddy and his associates, they go to Nya's apartment building to try and save her and her friends, but NFFA drones shoot and kill most of Dmitri's gang. Dmitri calls Nya and warns her of the mercenaries' invasion, but he is coming to help her. Dmitri successfully kills a number of mercenaries and helps Nya's group to hide in a safe space. A second group of mercenaries are about to shoot a rocket-propelled grenade into the apartments when a deranged Skeletor arrives and eliminates some mercenaries before he himself is killed. Dmitri grabs a piece of plastic explosive and gives it to Nya to throw it while he shoots it repeatedly until it explodes, killing the remaining mercenaries. As sirens sound the end of the Purge, a wounded Dmitri is hailed as a hero, and he states that the survivors must somehow fight back.

Sabian reads a statement calling this experimental Purge a success, and that a nationwide Purge may begin as soon as the following year, which leads into the events of the other films and directly ties into The Purge television series.[3]


  • Y'lan Noel as Dmitri Cimber,[4] a businessman and a gang kingpin
  • Lex Scott Davis[4] as Nya Charms, an anti-Purge activist
  • Joivan Wade[5] as Isaiah Charms, Nya's younger brother
  • Mugga as Dolores, a friend of Nya
  • Patch Darragh as Arlo Sabian/Chief of Staff, the Chief of Staff of the NFFA
  • Marisa Tomei as Dr. May Updale/The Architect,[6] the NFFA's sociologist and architect
  • Luna Lauren Vélez[5] as Luisa, mother of Selina
  • Kristen Solis as Selina, a friend of Nya
  • Rotimi Paul as Skeletor, an insane drug addicted serial killer who goes out on Purge night to unleash his anger on other people
  • Mo McRae as 7 & 7, a gang member of Dmitri
  • Jermel Howard as Lorenzo, one of the gang members of Dmitri
  • Siya as Blaise, a gang member of Dmitri
  • Christian Robinson as Capital A, one of the gang members turned traitor
  • Steve Harris as Freddy, member of the Three Wise Men of Staten Island
  • Derek Basco as Taz, Freddy's best friend and one of the Three Wise Men
  • DK Bowser as Sharpie, member of the Three Wise Men
  • Mitchell Edwards as Kels, a member of Dmitri's gang and Isaiah's friend
  • Maria Rivera as Anna, a call girl hired by Capital A to seduce and assassinate Dmitri
  • Chyna Layne as Elsa, a second call girl hired by Capital A to seduce and assassinate Dmitri
  • Ian Blackman as NFFA President Bracken, the newly sworn in President of the NFFA
  • Melonie Diaz as Juani, a Purge prospect
  • Naszir Nance as Terence, a member of Dmitri's gang
  • Peter Johnson as Pastor Carl Almory, a church leader
  • Levy Tran as Roenick, worker for the NFFA
  • Kevin Carrigan as General Smiley, the leader and general of a NFFA Paramilitary force dispatched to kill the poor
  • Desiigner as a member of Kels' crew
  • Qurrat Ann Kadwani as news reporter #3
  • Cindy Robinson as the Purge Emergency Broadcast System announcement voice[a] (uncredited)


In September 2016, James DeMonaco, the creator of the franchise, said that the fourth film, a follow-up to 2016's The Purge: Election Year, would be a prequel to the trilogy, showing how the United States came to the point of accepting the Purge Night.[7] On February 17, 2017, DeMonaco announced that the fourth installment in The Purge franchise was in development at Universal Studios. DeMonaco did not return as director, but wrote the script and produced the film, with Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller of Platinum Dunes, and Sébastien K. Lemercier.[8] In July 2017, Gerard McMurray, the director of Sundance film Burning Sands, was hired to direct the film from the script by DeMonaco.[9]

On September 19, 2017, newcomers Y'lan Noel and Lex Scott Davis were cast in the film as the lead characters, and the setting was announced as Staten Island.[4] Principal photography began in mid-September 2017 in Buffalo, New York. Filming wrapped on November 8, 2017.[10][11] Kevin Lax composed the score for the film, replacing Nathan Whitehead. Back Lot Music released the soundtrack.


The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, by Universal Pictures. It has grossed over $137 million worldwide, becoming the highest grossing entry in the franchise, but received mixed reviews from critics like its predecessors.

The film was released on Digital HD on September 18 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD was released on October 2.[12]


Box officeEdit

The First Purge grossed $69.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $67.5 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $137 million, against a production budget of $13 million.[2]

In the United States and Canada, The First Purge was released on July 4, 2018, and was projected to gross around $25–36 million from 3,031 theaters over its five-day opening weekend.[13][14] The film made $9.3 million on its first day, including $2.5 million from Tuesday night previews at 2,350 theaters, and $4.6 million on its second.[15] It went on to open to $17.2 million (and a five-day total of $31.1 million), finishing fourth at the box office.[16]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 56% based on 176 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The First Purge should satisfy fans of the franchise and filmgoers in the mood for violent vicarious thrills, even if its subtextual reach exceeds its grasp."[17] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[15] The film drew attention for its critique of the Trump administration and U.S. politics in general.[19][20][21]

According to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board of the Philippines (MTRCB), the film contains mature themes, racism, excessive violence, sex and nudity, strong language, and drug use that may not be suitable for viewers under eighteen years old. The MTRCB classified the film as rated R-18.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The character's real name was revealed as "Megan Lewis" in The Purge television series.


  1. ^ "THE FIRST PURGE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "The First Purge (2018)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  3. ^ "Does The First Purge Have An End-Credits Scene?". Screen Rant. July 4, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Sneider, Jeff (September 19, 2017). ""The Purge" Prequel Sets Two Leads, Including "Insecure" Star Y'lan Noel (Exclusive)". The Tracking Board. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Chitwood, Adam (October 20, 2017). "Check Out Synopses for 2018 Universal Films 'Jurassic World 2', 'The Purge 4', and More". Collider. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  6. ^ Trumbore, Dave (January 31, 2018). "'The First Purge': First Trailer for the Prequel Stirs Up American Pride". Collider. Complex Media. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  7. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (September 29, 2016). "This Is What The Purge 4 Will Be About". Cinemablend. GatewayBlend Entertainment. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (February 17, 2017). "New 'Purge' Movie Gets Summer 2018 Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (July 20, 2017). "'Purge 4' Finds Director in Sundance Filmmaker". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  10. ^ Perlman, Marissa (September 25, 2017). "Major motion picture franchise: 'The Purge' set to be shot in Western New York". WIVB. Nexstar Broadcasting. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  11. ^ Axelson, Ben (September 26, 2017). "'The Purge 4' just started filming in Buffalo: Who's starring, what's it about?". Advance Local Media. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "'The First Purge' Goes Digital in September". Slanted. August 7, 2018. Archived from the original on August 7, 2018. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  13. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 14, 2018). "'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Tracking for $75M Box-Office Debut". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony; Tartaglione, Nancy (July 3, 2018). "'Ant-Man And The Wasp' Bound To Swell To $155M+ Worldwide Start, But Could Grow Bigger". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  15. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 5, 2018). "'The First Purge' Slays $9.4M As Dinos Run Toward $300M – Independence Day Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (July 8, 2018). "'Ant-Man And The Wasp' Shrinks A Tick To $76M+ Opening, But Still 34% Bigger Than Original – Early Sunday Read". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  17. ^ "The First Purge (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  18. ^ "The First Purge Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  19. ^ Truitt, Brian. "'The First Purge' trolls its biggest inspiration: the Trump administration". USA TODAY. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  20. ^ "All the Ways 'The First Purge' Skewers America and Donald Trump". July 4, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  21. ^ "Opinion | "The First Purge" is a perfect commentary on the Trump era". NBC News. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  22. ^ "Movie and Television Review and Classification Board". Retrieved August 19, 2021.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit