It’s been 8 years since we were first introduced to the fascinating premise of “The Annual Purge”. The possibilities seemingly endless at the time and today we find ourselves four films later and staring at the supposed final entry, The Forever Purge, when 12 hours of continuous crime just isn’t enough.
The Forever Purge follows Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta) living challenging but comfortable lives in Texas after having illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the United States. Juan works on a Tucker family ranch, run by the confrontationally racist Dylan (Josh Lucas), his pregnant wife Cassie (Cassidy Freeman), his father Caleb (Will Patton), and his sister Harper (Leven Rambin). Having survived their first Purge since the night was unceremoniously re-instated after the events of The Purge: Election Year, everyone goes back to their morning routine after the sirens sound. However, the killing has not stopped. Nationalist extremists flood the streets of every major city in America, proclaiming the “Forever Purge” has begun, with the goal of killing everyone they deem unwelcome in their country. With the United States in complete disarray, Mexico and Canada announce they have opened their borders to refugees for a short period of time, and the crew must make the treacherous trek through the murderous militias to safety.
The Purge films, all the way down, have always intertwined social and political commentary into their horror. While it has always been blunt, it was very well crafted in the first two films. Around the time of The Purge: Election Year, the politics shot at you point-blank. Things got progressively more pronounced in The First Purge, particularly in reference to a “crotch-grabbing motherf***er”. And finally, in The Forever Purge, ham-fisted political dialogue comprises it’s only reason for existence.
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The unfortunate result is a film that comes across as very exploitative. If the filmmakers are going to explore the highly volatile racial tensions in our society, these very real and serious problems deserve much better than the caricatures of a despicable character calling the leads “bad hombres,” while another says “translate this” before killing someone. Dylan Tucker finally learns not to be racist, but only after having his life saved by Juan. In addition, it seems as if parts of the script are flat-out missing. The New Founding Fathers, the real bastards behind The Annual Purge, are missing from the story entirely until they suddenly arrive to stop the violence. If this indeed is the final movie in the franchise, leaving these loose ends untied feels like a real misstep.
“For a film dubbed as the final entry in the series, The Forever Purge goes out with a bit of a thud when compared to its siblings.”
In some ways, The Forever Purge does share some of the traits that made it’s predecessors successful, namely a strong cast. A series that has boasted very strong performances from the likes of Ethan Hawk, Frank Grillo, Betty Gabriel, and Mykelti Williamson creates certain expectations. While no one in this cast may stand out quite as strong, Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta are fantastic and make very compelling leads. Will Patton is awesome, as always, but MINOR SPOILER ALERT – Blumhouse, can you please just let the man live for once!? I mean come on, getting shanked by Dr. Sartain was more than enough.
For a film dubbed as the final entry in the series, The Forever Purge goes out with a bit of a thud when compared to its siblings. Purely from a moviegoer standpoint, the biggest sin this film commits is serving a dull story with a premise based upon so much violence. While I would hesitate to call The Forever Purge my least favourite film in the franchise, it may be the least inventive and entertaining, Nothing about the kills or set pieces separate the film from the rest of the franchise. The word “uninspired” unfortunately comes to mind.
Fully aware that I’ve mostly ripped apart The Forever Purge here, there are certainly redeeming qualities. The performances are great, and there are some really cool shots & stunning scenery, especially within the first half-hour. For a person starved of the theatre experience, it really was a great feeling to hear that purge siren blaring from the speakers of my local cineplex. But by the end credits, the siren that will forever be recognized in horror lore is really all that makes this feel like a Purge film. If this really is all that’s left to explore in a universe where, for one night, all crime is legal including murder, then maybe it indeed is time to hang up the weapons and masks for good.
The Forever Purge is in theatres now!. Want to talk spoilers? Head on over to the Spoiler Zone on the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! What’s your favourite Purge film? Share your franchise ranking with us over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.