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Forever Purge, The

Universal // R // July 2, 2021
List Price: Unknown

Review by Jeff Nelson | posted July 2, 2021 | E-mail the Author


The Purge originally started as a home invasion B-movie that has continued to expand its scope over the course of each of its sequels and two seasons of a television series. While the overall quality of each installment varies, the social commentary has been addressed in more depth over the course of the sequels. The marketing campaigns being tied so closely with American politics remains to be one of the most intriguing campaigns in quite some time. I can't help but let out a bit of a chuckle just thinking about the advertisements that aired during the commercial breaks of political debates. The fifth entry in the series once again raises some worthwhile concepts that many studio films are too afraid to touch upon, although it doesn't all come together.

Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) are a couple from Mexico, who have escaped into the United States to evade the drug cartels. Juan works on a Texas ranch, where he faces discrimination. When the date of the annual Purge approaches, they plan to simply stay safe and avoid any trouble. The next morning, they quickly realize that a group of outsiders have decided to unlawfully continue the Purge after it had already concluded. White supremacists shout "Forever purge!" while they fire their firearms into the sky and hunt down anybody who isn't part of their movement. While the majority of society has adapted to the annual Purge, it comes as a shock to many when a group of Purgers decide that the 12 hours of crime becoming legal should never end.

As previous installments have explored, it is clear at this point that the event of the Purge is inherently classist and racist. Similar to most acts put in place by society, it's meant to benefit the rich and further eradicate the poor. This sentiment is further explored during an exchange between a wealthy employer and a poor worker, who decides to be a part of the Forever Purge as an act of vengeance on those he feels took advantage of him. As far as character exchanges go, this is the most substantial that the film gets with how the film understands class, power and control. It's very dumbed down and over simplified, but that's about what we expect based on the track record of the previous films.

The central message of The Forever Purge is around the topic of immigration. While this has been a hot topic for a long time, it has been placed even more in the spotlight over the last few years, given the political climate. However, writer James DeMonaco's screenplay still has a B-movie feel to it that makes it difficult to take things seriously. At my screening, there were several unintentional laughs generated by the pure absurdity of some of the writing. Caught somewhere in between an action thriller and a horror movie, it's tonally confused. The jump scares are cheap and unnecessary, as most of them are a friend or family member standing where the point-of-view character isn't expecting them, accompanied by the typical, loud jump scare sound. The Forever Purge could exist as a horror film simply within the chaos that unfolds on screen, rather than forcing it with sound cues. The film succeeds in its more reflective moments and in the scenes with extreme action. When it tries to rack up the tension, it fails to ever get under the skin.

There is a lot of subtext going on in The Forever Purge, with most of it being pretty on the nose. It's clear who the Forever Purgers are meant to represent and the story moves in a way that could conclude the series, although it does leave the door open to another potential sequel. While the fifth feature was originally intended to be the final chapter, DeMonaco has been working on an idea for a sixth installment. Producer Jason Blum would surely be happy to keep the franchise going, given how the films have historically performed quite well at the box office, regardless of critical reception. People have continued to pay to see what's next in this universe.

One of my favorite things about this franchise is that people have different opinions on which installment of the franchise they like the most. My personal favorite remains to be the second entry, The Purge: Anarchy. However, each film in the series provides something different with varying tones, themes, and new characters in pretty much each movie. Similar to the previous entries, the fifth installment doesn't skimp out on the carnage. As the scope continues to grow in size, we will have to wait and see if it continues to expand in the next potential sequel. While the film teases with some good elements, it doesn't come together. With this being the fifth entry, it would have been nice if The Forever Purge broke some of its own rules in the same way that it breaks the rules of the Purge itself.


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