Ah, The Purge, a guilty pleasure that I can’t simply resist covering. With this being the fifth Purge film, I was thinking to myself that by now, the wide-open doors of this premise would be closing with each release. The franchise to me after the fourth film, had lost its sense of direction and I doubted that the franchise would ever get back on track by giving to us the full potential of its premise. The Forever Purge doesn’t look anything too special with its promotional materials and for people uninterested in the franchise, the film can seem that way too. However, I hope that many Purge fans will agree with me when I say that there are signs that the filmmakers are learning their lessons from their fall from grace, and this film, though not entirely back on track, is reaching that point.
I wasn’t expecting to come out here and shower praise on The Forever Purge, but I have to because, just like my favourite in the franchise, The Purge: Anarchy, The Forever Purge does exactly what fans have been demanding from each film, to put us right in the action. But it can’t just be any action, it has to be raw and reflect how brutal a world of lawlessness, The Forever Purge does just this in one long take scene following the films main characters. This is a bit behind the times sure, but it still works as you can see the chaos that surrounds them.
I also think that this film has the strongest characters we’ve seen in a Purge film for a long time. Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta who play Adela and Juan have an amazing presence in this film. They place two Mexican immigrants who have crossed the border to escape a cartel and have begun a new life with Juan working as a farmhand on a ranch. With Purge films, there is a tendency to have certain actors overplay their parts which can affect the film badly because it can more than often distract from the bold subtext the film is trying to get across. But Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta have such a great dynamic and link to the commentary that their performance is one that carries the film, if you don’t stick around for the violence, you will stick around for these two.
Time and time again, Purge films have had at its core, a political subtext that is used as this way to poke at the glaring problems that are damaging America. But in past film, the political subtext isn’t even subtext because the commentary is so in your face, the film might as well be shouting it to you. This time not only is the subtext kept underneath the narrative, but the filmmakers have switched tactics and gone for relevant commentary. The Forever Purge tackles the rise in white supremacy and xenophobia in America, and it’s clear to tell that the filmmakers have taken events like the George Floyd protests and the attack on the US Capitol Building as its inspiration for the violence we see. I still believe that there are tonnes of work that has to be done in the writing department in order for this franchise to find that right way of showing political commentary, but I do think focusing on relevant issues is the way to go.
As clear as you can see the signs of improvement in The Forever Purge, you can also see just as clearly the signs that lead audiences to think this film franchise has stagnated. It’s all to do with being tired of various elements that cheapen the film. I’ve already touched upon the over the top acting seen in every Purge film, for instance you had the absolute cringy “Candy bar Girl” in The Purge: Election Year and Skeletor in The First Purge. For The Forever Purge this over the top acting comes in the form of a Neo-Nazi who vibes to the sounds of gunfire and calls it American music. Done right, this could be a haunting scene that gets closer to the bigger goal of the films, but with both crazy acting and cinematography it becomes one big laugh.
Tracking the evolution of these films, the signs were there that the horror roots of The Purge were being lifted for a more action oriented direction, which I think is a real shame because all that remains of what once was, are cheap jump scares so it can qualify as a horror by technicality. At least in the first Purge film they had a go at creating an elongated, suspenseful atmosphere, now those moments of silent suspense before the jump scare are cut so short, the audience doesn’t even have enough time to get soaked into the scene.
The Forever Purge is a baby step forward in the right direction. It has just enough positive elements to remind you why people remember this franchise for the right reasons rather than the wrong reasons. However, the fine line into stagnation is getting thinner and thinner with every release and at this rate, despite The Forever Purge being surprisingly entertaining, the franchise will fall off. If it can get rid of the cheap blunders and the cheesiness of certain areas of filmmaking, then we could be seeing the dawn of a revival.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen The Forever Purge? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: The Suicide Squad