The Forever Purge-2021
Starring-Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Ana de la Reguera
Scott’s Review #1,209
Reviewed December 18, 2021
To date, I’ve seen two of the four installments of The Purge film franchise. The first one, The Purge (2013) was an edgy, creative concept that brought fresh energy to the horror genre. The sequel, The Purge: Anarchy (2014) was a decent follow-up but nothing to write home about either.
I skipped the next two: The Purge: Election Year (2016) and The First Purge (2018).
My expectations were low for the latest effort, The Forever Purge (2021). I’ve seen way too many ‘part five’ of various horror films to be tricked into thinking anything different will be offered to me.
I was pleasantly surprised. While the film doesn’t rewrite the rulebooks and sticks to a familiar formula for these types of films, there exists a timely political plot surrounding immigration that mirrors the deadly ‘Trump era’ that the United States is sadly still in the midst of ever since the 2016 presidential election.
After the film ended I first chuckled but then felt sad at the message that perhaps at some point citizens of the United States will flee to Mexico instead of the other way around.
It’s a somber message worth taking seriously.
In the first scene, we see Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta) come across the border from Mexico to live in Texas, where Juan is working as a ranch hand for the wealthy Tucker family. We presume they are illegal immigrants.
Juan impresses the Tucker patriarch, Caleb (Will Patton), but that fuels the jealous anger of Caleb’s son, Dylan (Josh Lucas). The residents of the small town prepare for lockdown because of the annual Purge, where all crime, including murder, is legal for one night only.
On the morning after The Purge, a masked gang of killers attacks the Tucker family including Dylan’s pregnant wife (Cassidy Freeman), and his sister (Leven Rambin), forcing both families to band together and fight back as the country spirals into chaos and the United States begins to crumble around them.
The insurrectionist movement continues committing crimes and murders nationwide after the Purge’s ending. The gang and their supporters spread throughout the United States as a Civil War eventually erupts causing many residents of Texas to flee to neighboring Mexico.
Unusual for horror films the premise and the screenplay are written quite well. The social message is a unique one and solidifies the importance of the action going on. Rather than feeling superfluous, I instead imagined that the events could occur in real-life current United States.
It was an unsettling feeling that made me focus on the film even more than I likely would have.
I love that James DeMonaco (director of the first three and writer of all five) is so heavily involved with the franchise. This consistency brings continuity and a good flow to the series. A sixth film is already in the works.
Too often in horror films a new regime will come along and change everything we knew from the preceding films.
The progressive slant of DeMonaco and director Everardo Gout won me over and I champion that the Mexican characters are the heroes of the film. Not to be forgotten, the caucasian Tucker family are written as sympathizing with and supporting their Mexican friends, becoming strong allies.
Where The Forever Purge lags a bit is with the traditionally standard action sequences. Numerous occurrences of shootouts between the Tuckers and Mexican family (they are never given a last name) and the radical movement become tired and standard after a while.
I sometimes felt like I was watching an episode of The Walking Dead.
The insurrectionists are portrayed as your basic dumb rednecks with primitive ideals and racist viewpoints but you never hear the current government’s side of the story. It is explained that the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) have regained control of the U.S. government but the explanations are limited.
It is supposed to be 2048 but this point feels silly since it is present times as far as hairstyles, clothing, and automobiles go.
I credit the thoughtful and forward-thinking approach that DeMonaco provides to The Forever Purge (2021). The political commentary is a huge win in an otherwise entertaining yet standard dystopian action horror film.
The film may be dated in ten or twenty years but in 2021 the message is pretty damned frightening.