The Forever Purge Review: The series’ darkest entry is chock full of potential it can’t always live up to
The Purge films have recently teetered more and more into political territory with Election Year and The First Purge featuring some less than subtle political commentary. It’s latest and possibly last entry, The Forever Purge, does a little better in delivering some interesting political notions while establishing its titular event’s darkest era yet.
Now, most Purge fans will definitely come in thinking, well, how are there still Purges if they ended at the end of Election Year? It’s possible that the opening explains this, but in case it doesn’t here’s the setup for why the Purge is still happening. So, after Charlene Roan’s term ends as President the NFFA have taken control again and reinstituted the Purge with its original rules about certain powerful people being exempt. Now as the first purge in over eight years occurs many are left wondering if the hostility and violence will escalate and if one day will really be enough. It’s actually a great setup that kind of touches on the issues of a sort of having two, generally confrontational, parties going after seats of power. Just as one enters and implements rules or legislature, the opposing party comes and generally tries to undo everything accomplished before to fit their vision.
It’s within this re-emergence of the Purge that we head to a new setting for the series – Texas. This creates some of the coolest looking antagonists in the series as there are some Purge participants dressed as evil cowboys and wearing animal skulls. The Texas setting is also fitting for the political themes of the film and the characters that are trying to survive the Purge. Recently having traveled to America to escape a Mexican drug cartel, married migrants Juan (Tenoch Huerta) and Adela (Ana de la Reguera) find themselves in some cultural struggles as they adjust to living in America.
While Adela is open to embracing American culture, Juan is hesitant. He isn’t interested in learning English or wanting to trade in his Mexican upbringing and ideals for anything American. Oddly enough, Juan’s boss at the ranch he works at Dylan (Josh Lucas) isn’t that different from him since he too scoffs at the idea of his children learning Spanish and has problems with Juan showing him up. These two present interesting views about culture mixing that are a little tough to get behind when they eventually decide to “cut the shit” and hash things out.
There’s a conversation between these two about their distaste for one another and Dylan gives an interesting answer that surprisingly works for Juan. Dylan says that he doesn’t dislike Juan for being Mexican and just simply believes that people should stick with their own kind – which Juan kind of agrees with. There’s no doubt that this ideology doesn’t really work for every instance of racism since we see throughout the film people killing other simply because they aren’t “American” – even being tortured and the process being labeled as a purification. Personally, I wish this moment was maybe given more time to explore since it just comes from Dylan’s point of view, and it would’ve been interesting to see more of Juan’s thoughts since he agrees with it.
Cultural mixing is kind of big gray area since there’s never really a right answer as to how we approach experiencing cultures outside of our own. Should people be more like Adela and Dylan’s wife Cassie (Cassidy Freeman) and embrace other cultures or is it okay for people like Dylan and Juan to want to just exist in their bubbles? Should Juan have to embrace American cultures just because he’s in America? Should Dylan have to embrace Mexican culture just because it’s becoming more prevalent? This film could really be an excellent conversation starter when it comes to race relations and cultural mixing but wastes its potential in not delving deep enough into these moments.
These themes are incredibly prevalent when talking about current culture and immigration issues, so it’s a shame the film just offers thought points to work off of rather than concrete beliefs or thought-provoking answers – especially when it has such a likeable group of leads. It’s rare that a group of lead characters in a Purge movie really impacts you, but the main group here does this and makes you genuinely care about them. Aside from just surviving the “Ever After Purge,” a movement where people continue to purge in order to change America into their twisted vision through violence, there are a lot of moments that keep you on the edge of your seat simply because you want to see these characters survive. They all really work well together and there’s this great moment where Dylan refuses to kill Juan after he’s given an ultimatum that fits the non-usual character-types presented here. The group as a whole and their ideals leave a lot to think about and that’s something that no other Purge movie has done for me before.
The more I think about it, that’s likely because The Forever Purge hits strongly realistic beats by legitimately capturing the empowered voice of racism in the US to horrifying extents. The sequence of a truck roaming around on Purge night filled with people announcing that they’re rounding up any immigrants or basically non-white Americans to purify their land makes your stomach turn. That sequence mentioned before of Dylan basically being forced to “prove his allegiance” to white Neo-Nazis by killing Juan strikes a horrifying chord that sticks with you. It’s a sequence we’ve seen play out in other films but hits so much stronger given the depraved ideology that drives it. Even the rhetoric displayed by many of those purging during the “Ever After Purge” heavily relates to a lot of the empowered hate we’ve seen come out of politics, mainly Trump supporters, in recent time. The Forever Purge definitely hits closer to home than ever and it’s what makes it one of the darkest entries to date.
For the most part, The Forever Purge is the usual Purge horrors we’ve seen throughout this series, but there is something more shocking about a lot of it happening in broad daylight. When you’ve gone through four films where a lot of these horrifying acts happens throughout one night, there’s something about people being slaughtered and complete chaos ensuing in the middle of the day that elevates the horror. It’s a perfect visual that shows how far things have gotten and adds to the shock and awe of everything as well. The Forever Purge definitely doesn’t really reenter the series back fully into the horror genre or present the most unique action segments, but it does have a good thrilling through line.
There’s a big part of me that wants to give The Forever Purge credit for bringing out dark, realistic themes and unique depictions of cultural mixing and racism mainly aimed towards immigrants, however the lack of depth and time given to these moments stops me from doing so. Overall, though, The Forever Purge is a fitting close to the Purge series, if it really is the end, that showcases its darkest era yet and provides engaging thrills.