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Appeal after 'brutal and frenzied violence' leads to film getting 18 rating

The appeal from the distributors, asking for The First Purge to be given a 16 rating, was not successful.

THERE WAS JUST one appeal over a film getting an 18 rating in Ireland in the first half of 2018.

The appeal was over The First Purge, which was given an 18 rating by the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) for having strong scenes of violence, drugs, sex/nudity and strong language. IFCO said it had “strong bloody violence, sustained threat and disturbing scenes”. 

However, a distributor for the film took issue with the rating, according to correspondence released to under Freedom of Information legislation.

In a letter to IFCO, it wrote: 

We would contend that the last two films in the franchise, in particular, are similar in tone and viscerality to the current film.
The First Purge is a thematic continuation of how a group of people must fight to survive a night of government-sanctioned mayhem. Similar to Anarchy and Election Year, The First Purge features intensely depicted violence and some gory imagery but has contextual justification. There are sustained scenes of threat in which the characters are terrorised by masked killers but the guidelines for a 16 classification on the IFCO suggest that strong horror and sustained threat may be acceptable in this category. 
The violence is presented in an extremely stylised way in an equivalent manner to the earlier films in the franchise as well as similar titles like Atomic Blonde (16) John Wick (16) and John Wick: Chapter 2 (16).

The distributor also said that the British classification for the film was 15. 

It argued that previous films The Purge, The Purge Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year had been given 15A, 16 and 16 ratings respectively. 

The distributor said in a letter to IFCO that it contended “that the film does meet the guidelines outlined by IFCO to be classified in the 16 category”.

It requested a classification appeal outcome of 16 “which recognizes the ability of today’s teenagers to digest and understand the mature themes and complex material at work in The First Purge”.


However, the appeal was not successful and in a letter to IFCO’s chairperson of its Classification of Films Appeal Board, the director of film classification Ger Connolly wrote: 

As can sometimes be the case with long-running horror franchises, in evolution they become more violent and explicit to maintain the interest of their audience. This is, in my opinion, the case with The Purge set of films.

It noted that The Purge: Election Year was classified as 18 on DVD release.

Connolly said that The First Purge “intensifies the extremely graphic violence” and that “the violence here is brutal and sustained”. 

He said that the film “also contained a scene of sexual assault as well as scenes of very overt brutal racist violence against African Americans with the attackers in full KuKluxKlan [sic] regalia. These were not present in the other instalments”. 

PastedImage-77267 Source: IFCO

He concluded:

I suggest that the context here is not sufficient to warrant a 16 classification due to the extremely brutal and frenzied acts of violence combined with racial hatred and that ‘The First Purge’ is appropriately classified at 18.

The First Purge made over €100m globally, according to Deadline Hollywood. The film series is set to become a TV series in the US.

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