Movie Review: THE FOREVER PURGE Starring Ana de la Reguera, Josh Lucas, Will Patton
Over the past decade, almost bi-yearly, it seems a July 4th weekend tradition sees a new addition in The Purge franchise. And, 2021 sees what is said to be the final installment in the series following four subsequent films, one of which was a prequel, and two seasons of a television series creating an interconnected filmverse.
Fans of horror and even those who are not are all familiar with what “The Purge” is, as the movies have made quite a splash starting with the very first entry releasing in 2013 and starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey. For those of you who have been living under a rock, “The Purge” is a national holiday in a dystopian (yet extremely relatable,) not-to-distant future where Americans have twelve continuous hours to commit whatever crime they want, including murder, with few restrictions, to purify their violent urges in a legal yet extremely brutal manner. By the second film, it seemed the “home invasion” idea was ditched, as cameras took to the streets to film the violence and also created an echo of a political statement introducing modern day issues such as class, gender, race, immigration, etc.
The political aspect definitely built over the past several entries and is at the forefront of the storyline presented in the latest and final entry, The Forever Purge, directed by Everardo Gout. The final film has quite a different vibe than its counterparts, feeling equal parts western and equal parts horror story. The film stars Ana de la Reguera, Josh Lucas, Will Patton, Cassidy Freeman, Tenoch Huerta, and Alejandro Edda as our new set of survivors fighting for their lives during one of the most violent nights of the year. But that’s just it, the violence isn’t suspended within just a 12-hour span. When the sirens go off, it seems that people are still purging.
A group of extremists have declared that this is the “Purge Ever After,” or the “Purification” of the country. And by purification, I mean violence against all individuals who are minorities, lower class, or don’t have a linear set of views as them, with a notion of recreating America in a new image. If you need a reference, think of a modern-day genocide. At one point in the film, it isn’t the violence that is meant to scare viewers or make them squirm but instead the dialogue and belief systems of these Forever Purgers. As every major American city is overran by violence, survivors are fleeing to Canada and Mexico as their borders are open for a limited time to provide sanctuary. It is this journey that we saw our main group of survivors making the trek across the border in search of safety, but on the way, the extremists seem to be around every corner taking out those who don’t believe in their cause.
While the other films had a lot of violence focusing on the specific 12-hour timespan of the terrifying holiday, this film takes a closer look at the aftermath of the holiday. This isn’t the first time this has been explored, as it was the primary focus for the storyline during season 2 of the connected series of the same name that aired on USA. With this, the politically charged storyline seems heavier than it has in previous films. While it explores extremists of a dystopian world, a lot of the struggle between opposing viewpoints are derivative from modern societal and political disagreements.
In a sense, the film acts as a commentary on some real-life issues that movie goers are quite familiar with, sparking conversation and controversary. (A well written film can do that, you know.) While I was a little confused at the Western-like setting the film began with, I soon saw its importance and relevance in driving the storyline forward and quite enjoyed the different tone that I’ve become accustomed to with other entries in the franchise.
With its political statements loud and clear, and an ironic ending (which I won’t spoil for you,) I felt the film was a solid ending to a series that was quite capturing and eerie despite its violent horror elements. It was interesting to see the fictional NFFA (New Founding Fathers of America) having to battle with a group they created themselves. With that being said, does the foundation of this “New America” collapse on itself? Or, is there hope with our survivors and resistance groups? To see how the ending of the franchise concludes (before its inevitable reboot or revival,) you can now see The Forever Purge in theatres now.