The Forever Purge

 

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Just as The Purge franchise seemed to be going on forever, we now get The Forever Purge.

 

Forever Purge, The

Shoot thy neighbour

 

Now it’s getting silly. What started as an intriguing concept for a horror film has now been so bent out of shape that it’s completely lost its dramatic moorings. To recap: in order to rid the country of crime, the US government set up a twelve-hour period in which every misdemeanour went unpunished. The idea was that society’s miscreants could exorcise their demons during a controlled window and for the rest of the year the populace could live in peace. And, according to The Purge (2013), all law-breaking plummeted, the economy recovered, unemployment fell to 1% and a “psychological stability” settled on the land. That was four films ago. Here we have Everardo Gout's The Forever Purge, which is a sequel to The Purge: Election Year (2016), which jumped ahead of the last instalment, The First Purge (2018), which was a prequel to The Purge (2013). You have to keep up.

 

Each film introduces a new location and set of characters, thus recycling the same idea in a different milieu. But, as the poster of the new film concedes, “the rules are broken.” The question always remained whether or not the scheme sated or fuelled the need for violence, and all is revealed here, in the fifth chapter. It’s 2048, we’re in Texas and it’s ten months before The Purge is reinstated under a new government. Meanwhile, the US has been inundated with a “new surge of migrants” and handsome Marlboro Man Dylan Tucker (Josh Lucas) is showing marked signs of bigotry. Worse, he’s resentful of the horse whispering skills of his father’s Mexican farmhand, Juan (Tenoch Huerta), and one fears the worst. Cut forward ten months and the Tucker ranch battens down its hatches for the night of the new Purge. The following morning in nearby Austin, as stray dogs feed off the corpses and sanitation forces hose down the sidewalks, the Tucker ranch would seem to be unscathed. Indeed, an eerie calm has settled over the community. Then the worst case scenario begins…

 

The BBFC’s advisory caption cites “strong bloody violence, language and racism” and that’s no overstatement. There’s nothing wrong with films sparking controversy, regardless of their genre. However, in the wake of the shootings that rocked this month’s Independence Day weekend, The Forever Purge is particularly troubling. According to figures released by the Gun Violence Archive, 189 men, women and children were shot dead over the three-day holiday. In 2020, 43,555 Americans died from shootings. The Forever Purge, then, may serve as a salutary warning.

 

However, as a piece of visceral exploitation, the film’s impact is undermined by one-dimensional characters and shoddy action scenes. Every character suffers from a shocking lack of peripheral vision and is constantly surprised by other characters popping up out of nowhere, accompanied by a deafening crescendo. Jump scares really need to be earned, though. And with so much choppy editing, tyro filmmaker Everardo Gout commits the unforgivable sin of repeatedly excluding the viewer from what is actually happening on screen. Hitchcock made a point of colluding with his audience, because he felt his films were designed for them. Thus, The Forever Purge proves both dull and offensive. There are some positives: our protagonist (Juan’s gun-toting wife) is played by the Veracruz-born Ana de la Reguera – i.e. a Latino woman takes centre stage – and the views of the California desert (masquerading for Texas and Mexico) are stunning.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Alejandro Edda,

Josh Lucas, Will Patton, Zahn McClarnon, Veronica Falcon, Will Brittain, Sammi Rotibi, Willow Beuoy, Annie Little, Lupé Carranza.

 

Dir Everardo Gout, Pro Jason Blum, Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, James DeMonaco and Sébastien K. Lemercier, Screenplay James DeMonaco, Ph Luis Sansans, Pro Des Jennifer Spence, Ed Todd E. Miller and Vincent Tabaillon, Music The Newton Brothers, Costumes Leah Butler.

 

Platinum Dunes/Blumhouse Productions/Man in a Tree Productions/Perfect World Pictures-Universal Pictures.

103 mins. USA/Mexico/France. 2021. Rel: 16 July 2021. Cert. 15.