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Review: Gimmicky 'Purge' void of distinction

LOS ANGELES – Characters are frequently urged to "release the beast" in "The Purge," a high-concept home-invasion shocker set in a future where one night a year, all crime is legal. But what should be a clammy exercise in claustrophobic, queasy tension becomes, in the hands of writer/director James DeMonaco, an underpowered compendium of over-familiar scare tactics and sledgehammer-subtle social satire. The intriguingly nightmarish premise may well rustle up a decent opening weekend for a picture that comes with the imprimatur of producer Michael Bay before the lukewarm word of mouth hastens its trip to DVD and VOD.

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