Review: The Forever Purge (2021)

  • Director: Everardo Gout
  • Writers: James DeMonaco
  • Stars: Ana de la Reguera, Josh Lucas, Will Patton

Review

The horror genre can always be counted on for mirroring the fears and anxiety’s of the times we are living in and The Purge series has been the not so subtle leader of this for it’s eight year run. With five movies and two seasons of a television series, The Purge has been pointing a laser focused spotlight on America’s various cultural maladies while also keeping our need for entertainment and bloodlust satisfied. The alleged last installment of the franchise, The Forever Purge, is the most timely of any of it’s predecessors, the most heavy handed with it’s symbolism and allegory, but for this viewer, also the most entertaining. And I say this as a Frank Grillo super fan.

As usual, the film opens up right before the annual Purge is about to commence. We have met Adela and Juan, a couple who has recently crossed the border from Mexico to Texas in the hopes of making a better life for themselves. In fact, the movie opens with their illegal crossing via underground tunnels into Texas. While Adela truly embraces the United States and all of the opportunities it has to offer her, Juan is still not sold. He prefers speaking Spanish despite Adela constantly reminding him to speak English: this “speaking the right language” thing is something that runs through the entire course of the movie and is one of the more obvious commentaries on the American insistence that you need to speak our language.

Juan works as a ranch hand for a wealthy, white family and while Mr. Tucker, the patriarch of this family, truly likes and respects Juan, his son Dylan does not. Whether this is due to racism or being shown up by Juan taming a horse is unclear until later in the film. Dylan’s wife, Cassidy, is pregnant and Dylan does say that he doesn’t want to hire a Mexican nanny because he doesn’t think he wants Spanish being spoken in his home and he certainly doesn’t want his children speaking it. Meanwhile, his sister Harper is seemingly ambiguous about all of this. I’m sure you know where all of this is going: through a chain of events, Adela, Juan and their good friend T.T., who also works on the Tucker ranch, will end up with Dylan, Cassidy and Harper as an unlikely group, all trying to reach safety across the Mexican border.

Since when do people from the U.S.A. cross into Mexico for anything other than debauchery and tschotskies? Since a bunch of assholes utilized social media in an effort to mobilize and make the annual Purge the Ever After Purge so they can take down the governing bodies that they have decided have let them down, (i.e.) not getting rid of the immigrants who have, allegedly, been raping and pillaging. This fringe group of citizens believe it is their right and their duty to make America, American again. Wow. Does this sound familiar? A bunch of descendants of immigrants have decided that they are the rightful citizens of a country that was literally stolen from the actual rightful citizens, a country built on the back of immigrants and a country that prides itself on being a melting pot. The melting pot of America is one of the things that Adela loves most. She tells Juan that, “America is everything. America is Mexico. America is Africa.” In yet another example of the movie straight up telling you it’s point of view, Mr. Tucker tells Juan that he doesn’t believe his son Dylan is racist, however, he also says that he raised his son to be a proud American, but maybe he didn’t teach him what that actually means and, perhaps, he no longer knows what it means anymore either. To further show his social conscious, he explains to a disgruntled employee that he fully understands that, “The rich get rich off the back of the poor, after we stole the land from the Native Americans.”

Enter Chiago. He is a Native American who operates as the mouthpiece for the Anti-Purge movement. While trying to explain that the Purge is simply a means for the government to further exploit minorities and the lower and middle class in order to keep rich, white people at the top of the food chain, he also seems moderately amused to watch people claim they are fighting to keep what is theirs.

Director Everardo Gout pulls off a few tracking shots through the battleground of the Purge and it’s a fun way to see people do their usual Purge activities while still keeping the main story moving forward. During one of these, our group runs into a group of Ever After Purgers. Essentially, they say a lot of ugly racist stuff, some people get killed and this is what makes for the third act cat and mouse game. These Ever After Purgers actually refer to Juan and T.T. as “bad hombres,” proclaim themselves the real patriots of America because they have taken back what is rightfully theirs and only pure Americans are allowed in America. (I’m sure that Chiago would love to hear this.) 

Writer James DeMonaco has delivered the most real Purge yet by simply watching the news and repackaging it into a horror film. The first Purge film was an uneven look at caste systems and didn’t really work as well as it could have, but with The Purge:Anarchy and especially with The Purge: Election Year, he really found his footing in using America’s real issues to help propel the stories in a way that feels eerily realistic in a not too distant future. The under-seen television series did a great job of getting into the myriad complexities of the Purge and the consequences after the sirens mark the end of the holiday. Indeed, the mere fact that The Purge is called a holiday is chilling enough, but compound that with the escalating realness of this fictitious American holiday and The Forever Purge is scary on a whole different level.

One of the things about The Purge film series that does not get enough attention is the inclusion of female characters who are strong and intelligent. Adela has an especially awesome backstory that explains her ease with weapons and fighting. With the exception of Cassidy, the women in this movie are just as, if not more, up to the task of fighting off Ever After Purgers and making it across the border.

Regardless of where you fall in all of this American civil unrest, you will probably see yourself in this film and that is the true heart of why we love horror. It reflects us, for better or worse, back to ourselves in a way that is easily digestible and entertaining at the same time. The Forever Purge is exactly what you want a summer horror film to be: fun, engaging, a little over the top and all around entertaining.

Lisa Fremont

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