Movie theaters are back. Mostly. Depending on where you live, theaters have begun opening doors. Over the last couple of months, several long-awaited horror movies have finally released including Spiral From The Book of Saw and A Quiet Place Part Two. Now the latest entry in the seemingly never-ending Purge franchise is here. This time The Purge Forever promises that the “rules are broken” as the annual purge spills beyond its regulated 12 hours. Critics aren’t impressed with this twist, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Perhaps craving anything new in theaters, audiences have embraced the fifth movie in the series. But five movies deep into a franchise, can The Forever Purge really break “all the rules”?
Eight years have passed since Charlene Road won the election and banned “The Purge”. Now the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) have regained power, instantly reinstating the annual tradition. On a Texas ranch, Dylan Tucker and his family prepare for the night of lawlessness. Meanwhile Tucker’s ranch hand, Juan and his wife, Adela, hunker down in a safehouse with other migrant workers. When the night passes, however, the violence doesn’t end. Splinter groups – a Purge Purification Force – have defied the NFFA and declared a ‘forever purge’. Fueled by racial hatred, the ‘Forever Purge’ threatens to go on and on until America is “cleansed”.
The Forever Purge Changes Scenery But Delivers More of the Same
After The Purge: Election Year’s hopeful ending, one had to wonder where franchise could go next. Even prequel The First Purge promised some optimism. Not surprisingly, series creator and The Forever Purge writer, James DeMonaco once again taps into America’s political climate for inspiration. Specifically, DeMonaco’s premise of extremist groups – the Purge Purification Force – splintering from the New Founding Fathers of America should make audiences uncomfortable. Though The Forever Purge was originally set to release a year ago, this idea doesn’t seem so out of touch now. With this creative decision The Forever Purge effectively erases Election Year’s ending in the sequel’s opening minutes. Despite the potential of the idea itself, it’s hard not feel like it’s a bit of lazy storytelling to justify the sequel.
With this creative decision The Forever Purge effectively erases Election Year’s ending in the sequel’s opening minutes.
Like the past sequels, The Forever Purge nails its violent action set-pieces. For the first time in the series, a new director, Everardo Gout, takes the reigns. As The Forever Purge changes settings from dark urban cities to sun-soaked Texas landscapes, Gout makes good use of this environment. Across the sequels, The Purge franchise has never been particularly scary or suspenseful, which continues here. Still Gout captures the big action sequences in a way that emphasizes the sequel’s chaos. Too bad DeMonaco under-develops his commentary while laying its more obvious message on thickly. What’s left feels like more of the same, but just a lot less like a Purge movie.
The Forever Purge Is Missing Compelling Villains to Rival its Likeable Protagonists
Consistent with its rather heavy-handed messaging, The Forever Purge’s characters fit somewhat stereotypical categories. John Lucas’ bigoted rancher ‘Dylan Tucker’ and Tenoch Huerta’s ‘Juan’, who’s equally skeptical of the ‘American Dream’, set up requisite interpersonal conflict. Will the two very different men eventually work together? Probably. But Lucas and Huerta are both excellent, elevating their characters above these simplistic terms. As ‘Anna’, Ana de la Reguera gives us another likeable, highly capable character that mostly avoids tropes. Enjoy the always good Will Patton (Halloween) in a supporting role.
However, what’s missing is a face of the organization – a “big bad” so to speak.
One glaring oversight in The Forever Purge is the lack of a compelling overarching villain. As ‘The Purge’ rules break down and the New Founding Fathers get regulated to the background, The Forever Purge sort of introduces The Purge Purification Force (PFF). By ‘sort of’ DeMonaco’s screenplay explicitly mentions the PFF and its eerie mandate to ‘cleanse’ the country of ‘non-Americans’. Moreover, it’s a villain that feels all too possible in today’s climate. However, what’s missing is a face of the organization – a ‘big bad’ so to speak. Instead, The Forever Purge bookends the movie with two disposable groups of villains. Admittedly, a cowboy posse looks menacing for their brief screen time. Near the sequel’s end, ‘Alpha’ (Jeffrey Doornbos) and ‘Mother’ (Susie Abromeit) become the faces of the PFF. As compared to the series’ past villains, they’re pretty unremarkable.
The Forever Purge Will Satisfy Series’ Fans, But Likely Won’t Win Over New Ones
Credit to DeMonaco as he remarkably offers the series a potentially new direction. Let’s face it, five movies into a franchises is hardly when you see fresh creative opportunity. Too bad The Forever Purge never properly executes its splinter ‘Purge’ concept. Instead, DeMonaco’s screenplay beats its sociopolitical commentary like a dead horse. Plenty of slickly choreographed violent and a dystopian sun-soaked setting alongside sympathetic characters makes it more than watchable. And the idea of a sixth Purge movie built around a ‘civil war’ actually sounds promising. Yet what’s on the screen likely won’t grow the series’ fanbase. However, diehard fans will likely eat it up.