Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
The Purge films are an interesting bunch. Not quite slasher (there’s a revolving door of killers, none of which have been undead at any point in time) they aren’t quite post-apocalyptic (which might change if they keep going in the direction they are) and they’re not a fan of subtext. No, my dear readers, unlike films like, say, Night of the Living Dead, where deeper meaning can be found by digging beneath the surface, there’s no need to dig deep into The Forever Purge. Like the four films and the television series that came before it, is a subtle as a donkey kick to the skull.
So where does that leave us? I think it depends on how you feel about these movies in general. If you’re a fan, there’s still life left behind the masks that roam the streets of America once a year, celebrating what one character in the first sequel The Purge: Anarchy gleefully called, “Halloween for adults”. But if you’re a casual viewer, The Forever Purge makes for a great jumping off point. Let’s break it down, shall we?
The premise is exactly what we’ve come to expect, but for those of you experiencing The Purge for the first time, well…you’re some kind of weirdo for watching these films in reverse and the premise goes something like this—once a year the citizens of the United States have the opportunity to go out and commit any crime their twisted hearts can think off. Nothing is off the table (I think) and for those who aren’t psychopaths, you have to find some place safe to hunker down for 24 hours, after which life goes back to normal. Or at least whatever normal would look like in a society where something like this was legal. The Purge is sanctioned by the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) a faction which took over the United States government and established a new regime after an economic collapse and rising social unrest.
The Forever Purge kicks things up a notch when a massive fringe militia group whose motto is “Ever After” decide purging for one night isn’t gonna cut it. All over the country they begin to purge AFTER the designated day and in doing so basically trigger a civil war. This time around our location has moved from the cities to the open countryside and vast cattle ranches of Texas. If you’ve been paying attention to international news illegal immigration has been a hot button issue for some time, but it really took centre stage during the Trump administration. So it makes sense (especially if you’ve seen the past films) that this would be the focus in this movie, as Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta) who have recently crossed the border into the US try to build a life.
Juan works for wealthy but kind ranch owner Mr Tucker (Will Patton). Tucker’s son Dylan (Josh Lucas) harbours resentment towards Juan and his personal prejudices come into play. But when the rules of The Purge are tossed out the window and his entire family is in danger, Juan and his friend (Alejandro Edda) are the ones to come to their rescue. And with things escalating, and the NFFA struggling to regain order after their system is turned on them, our heroes are forced to head to the borders of Mexico, which will remain open for a few hours, allowing innocent civilians and a crap ton of irony to find safety.
Again, I have to come back to the fans. A lot of this is retreaded ground, but if you enjoy these movies then that’s not something that will bother you. The kills here aren’t what I would call over-the-top, but they are brutal in their realism. The reason these films have found such success is because The Purge sometimes feels like a possibility. The idea of people taking up arms and targeting those they deem “unfit” or “unclean” is not a thing of fantasy. Too often we see these scenarios playing out in real life, which is what makes The Purge interesting to viewers.
Also returning to the franchise is the formula of innocent people trying to survive, but writer/franchise creator James DeMonaco makes the smart choice of upping the ante by breaking the rules we’ve come to know. This really opens up the world of The Purge franchise and adds an element of danger and tension that would’ve been nonexistent at this point in the series. It also opens up the series to the possibility of more movies down the road. Very wise decision indeed.
As I mentioned before, subtlety is not a strength of these movies and the message of the rich using the poor to destroy each other so they can get richer is on full display. Why help immigrants running from terrible situations (in this case Adela and Juan fought against a Mexican cartel and now have to flee for their lives) when you can simply create laws that work against them? The actors here do a lot to keep you invested, but the message at this point has been beaten into us over the course of these movies to the point where you might find yourselves numb to it all, defeating the purpose of having a message in the first place.
The villains are as one-note as ever, so if you’re coming into this looking for anything other than cookie-cutter neo-Nazis or other nameless, faceless fascists, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The closest these movies ever had to real villains were found in The Purge: Election Year and even then they weren’t worth writing home about.
For those who can ignore the heavy-handedness of it all though, there’s a solid thriller/horror here to enjoy. The pacing is kept tight and you never really have that sense of who’s gonna make it alive, which is always a plus in these types of films. So if you’re a fan, I think you’ll come out of viewing The Forever Purge still very much a fan. But if you’re just curious The Forever Purge, while chock full of good intentions (message-wise) is not a bad way to spend your time, though I don’t see it making that much of an impact.
Sommer’s Score: 5.5 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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