As someone who has been a fan of The Purge series for the most part (I still contend the original is the weakest entry in the franchise, but it’s still a pretty solid thriller all the same), I was rather interested to see where screenwriter James DeMonaco and director Everardo Gout were going to take this concept for The Forever Purge, and for the most part, they’ve succeeded in creating a horrific vision that taps into the division that is currently rippling through the sociopolitical landscape of the United States. There are definitely aspects of The Forever Purge that feel a bit heavy-handed at times, and it doesn’t quite have the same pulse-racing action set pieces we’ve seen in other entries, but, as a whole, The Forever Purge does an admirable job of continuing the franchise’s legacy of holding up a mirror to the issues that are currently plaguing society in America.
The Forever Purge introduces us to Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), who make their way to the U.S. from Mexico in hopes of building a new life with the American Dream in mind. They arrive in Texas, where Adela finds a job at a meat processing plant and Juan takes a job at a ranch working for Caleb Tucker (Will Patton) and his hot-headed son Dylan (Josh Lucas), who is about to start a family with his wife Cassie (Cassidy Freeman). After its abolishment several years prior (no doubt due to the efforts of Elizabeth Mitchell’s character in The Purge: Election Year), the New Founding Fathers have found a way to bring back The Purge, and everyone gets ready to buckle down for 12 hours of murder, mayhem, and anarchy.
Of course, if you’re paying attention to the film’s title, The Purge doesn’t end when those infamous sirens sound off, and groups of dissenting purgers decide that it’s time for the “Forever Purge” to become a way of life, which causes the country to break down in violent disarray, forcing martial law and countries like Canada and Mexico to open their borders for a limited time so that Americans can escape the bloody chaos unfolding everywhere. And at the core of everything, The Forever Purge brings together the Tucker family with Adela and Juan (and a few others) as they desperately try to make their way back to the Mexican border in hopes of escaping the deadly disorder that is overtaking America, leaving a path of destruction and the total annihilation of thousands of people in its wake.
What I’ve always appreciated about The Purge films is how every entry in the series differs from the others, and The Forever Purge does a great job of delivering up a totally different cinematic experience from its predecessors, as it feels like a mash-up of a road movie, classic Westerns, and an ultra-violent thriller as well. The film feels steeped in a dusty haze most of the time, thanks to the talents of DP Luis David Sansans, and its nighttime sequences when everyone hits the road effectively capture the desolate isolation that’s at the heart of this story as we watch these characters desperately looking for some type of refuge from the violence at hand.
As mentioned, The Forever Purge doesn’t quite hit the same pulse-pounding highs with its set pieces the way that Anarchy, Election Year, and The First Purge did, but there are still some memorable scenes all the same, including a no-BS discussion that is shared between Lucas’ character Dylan and Huerta’s character Juan that thoughtfully tackles racism and the misunderstandings that can happen between people from different cultural backgrounds. While I’m someone who believes that certain viewpoints are beyond reproach and that there are awful people out there who will always be unwilling to embrace those different from them (it’s a truly sad aspect of our society), I appreciated that The Forever Purge takes a moment to try and show people just how important it can be to just listen to those we may not necessarily understand. I also enjoyed how DeMonaco addresses what the “American Dream” looks like under the thumb of something like The Purge, and examines just why people would still choose to move to a country where an event like this happens annually as well.
It may not necessarily hit the highs of other movies in this franchise, but there’s still a lot that I admired about The Forever Purge. Once again, DeMonaco taps into the sociopolitical undercurrent that has been rippling throughout the United States for the last decade or so, and I think Gout was the perfect directorial choice to bring this story to the big screen as well. While The Purge series may not be one of the most discussed amongst horror aficionados out there (which I’m still trying to figure out why—maybe it’s because these darkly satirical actioners hit a little too close to home?), I will always be a fan of any and all new The Purge stories, and I can’t help but admire just how consistent this franchise has been overall, especially after it recalibrated itself after the release of the original Purge film.
Movie Score: 3/5