THE year is 2022. Unemployment is a mere one per cent in America and there is almost no crime.

Security salesman James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) returns home to his gated community and his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and children Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder).

It’s Purge Night and at 7pm a siren will sound that grants anyone immunity from prosecution for killing for the next 12 hours.

As the deadline approaches, the Sandins activate their state-of-the-art defence system and relax. The calm is shattered when teenager Charlie temporarily raises the shutters to allow a homeless man (Edwin Hodge) in.

That act of kindness has terrifying consequences when one member of the rabble (Rhys Wakefield) makes clear they will break into the house unless the homeless man is delivered to them.

Writer-director James DeMonaco cranks up tension with sadistic glee in his impressively lean second feature.

The Purge leaves a ball of tension in your stomach during the opening hour.

Once chaos breaks in, Hawke and Headey must fight for their lives in breathlessly orchestrated showdowns.

Once the first gunshot sounds, it’s only a matter of time before diplomacy is jettisoned in favour of blood-curdling screams and machetes.

Damon Smith