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Soundtrack review: The Purge – election year (Nathan Whitehead – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Purge – election year (Nathan Whitehead – 2016)


“The Purge: Election Year is a 2016 American social science fiction action horror film, written and directed by James DeMonaco and starring Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell and Mykelti Williamson. A sequel to the 2014 film The Purge: Anarchy, it is the third in The Purge series. Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge. The score was written by Nathan Whitehead.
The first two “Purge” scores worked very well in the context of the movies. They made more sense like that because they didn’t instill in me the terror of the whole concept when I listened to the music without the support of the images. Still the dark and pulsating atmosphere that dominated the albums made sense and I find it again in this third installment. What I notice right away is that the music is livelier this time around. It sounds fresh and not so defensive as it did the last time around. I find the emotional element I always enjoy in “Hope”. Even here, the emotion is no longer desperate or like a sanctuary; it’s more determined. As I listen to the score I imagine that terror is no longer the most important idea of the movie like in the first two. I like the atmospheric sound of cues like “My slice of the pie” and Photograph”.
For me in “Election year” the sound of “The purge” has matured and become more industrial. It’s strange because from what I know the story takes place outside while the music often makes me think of confined spaces and dark basements. I feel a lump in my throat as I listen to the constant pulse of “Radio check” or “Pequena Muerte”. I am finally scared when I hear “We’re on our own” as this cue blends terror with desperation and I can connect with it.
Once again the standalone listen of a “Purge” score makes me curious about the movie. I need the on screen images to complete it and I need the story to feel some of the emotional gaps I feel in the music. Enjoyable as a background listen, “The purge: election year” develops and solidifies the musical identity of the franchise. There’s still room for improvement in the next instalments.
Cue rating: 74 / 100

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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