The “Purge” series has long since become a global film phenomenon. And that’s what the latest film says THE FOREVER PURGE not to fear that franchise creator James deMonaco’s successful project will ever end. In order for this to be profitable in terms of quality, the creative people would have to slowly but surely rethink. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Forever Purge (USA 2021)
The USA in the near future: The wall on the border with Mexico has been successfully built. The Purge still takes place every year: all crimes are allowed for one night. But while even their most ardent supporters believe that the true values have been lost, a dangerous radical group is forming in the vigilante group “Forever Purge”. Their plan is to overthrow the government and create an America where the Purge becomes permanent and crime reigns. The Mexican couple Juan (Tenoch Huerta) and Adela (Ana de la Reguera) find themselves in this America that is on the verge of collapse. Both have successfully escaped the drug cartels in their homeland. Juan works as a ranch hand for the wealthy Tucker family and impresses the patriarch Caleb (Will Patton). But this fuels the jealous anger of Caleb’s son Dylan (Josh Lucas). Then, the morning after the purge, a masked gang of murderers attacks the Tucker family, including Dylan’s pregnant wife (Cassidy Freeman) and his sister (Leven Rambin). The dramatic situation forces both families to band together and fight back as the United States plunges into chaos.
In the summer of 2019, when the first planning for “The Forever Purge” began, there was still talk of the grand finale. After five films and a series that currently runs two seasons, this should finally be an end. But why slaughter a cow that is still producing plenty of milk early when there is reasonable hope in the near future that it will stay that way for many years? It’s enough to just consider the success so far: In total, the films (including the fifth one) have grossed over $450 million so far – with a budget of just $53 million (also for all five films!) . The tried and tested Blumhouse concept, let the (mostly still unknown) directors direct horror films as they see fit for little money and even if there is a box office flop, the sheer mass of cinema productions resulting from this is able to compensate for one or two failures . It will be exciting to see whether this principle continues in the future. After all, the studio Universal, which brings almost every Blumhouse film to the cinema, has changed its release rhythm during the pandemic and is now offering the latest cinema productions to the streaming market as VOD much more quickly after their release. This also applies to “The Forever Purge”, where less than four weeks passed between the cinema and home cinema release. But somehow that also fits with the film quality in this case. At this point, James deMonaco is only fishing in direct-to-DVD realms.
Cleaning killer bunnies in the house.
The USA poster headline “No more rules” can also be applied to “The Forever Purge” in a figurative sense. Within the reality created in the film, following the annual purge, the anarchy and violence of the previous 12 hours continue to reign – the principle that all crimes, including murder, are only permitted during this period no longer applies. Just “Forever Purge”. But even within the “Purge” film series, screenwriter and franchise creator James deMonaco (directed by someone else this time, Everardo Gout) breaks all of his once self-imposed rules with this concept. And so you once again have the feeling that the makers didn’t understand the appeal behind the Purge at all. An impression that those responsible for the film series have confirmed with each of its parts so far; albeit in very diverse ways. The first part from 2013 simply used the purge premise as background noise for a maximally average home invasion trailer, from which main actor Ethan Hawke only managed to stand out. The sequel “The Purge: Anarchy” at least finally took to the streets, but that wasn’t enough to be more than a solid action spectacle that could just as easily have taken place against the backdrop of a civil uprising or a shooting situation. Nobody knew how to explore the political, let alone ethical, trace elements of the basic idea. At least in the third part “The Purge: Election Year”, which fit like a glove into the absurd election campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and, thanks to its occasional satirical tips, represents the best part of the series so far, the franchise at least moved somewhat into the mainstream those nasty spheres where it belongs, while the fourth part “The First Purge” discussed the origins of the purge, but repeated the weaknesses of the second part.
“You once again have the feeling that the makers didn’t understand the appeal behind the Purge at all. An impression that those responsible behind the film series have confirmed with every part of it so far.”
Part five now moves completely away from the “12 hour limit” of his crime decree and simply tells about a radical terrorist organization that murders and butchers through the streets and prefers to assassinate Mexican citizens. The fact that she was inspired by the Purge for this action is pretty much the only (and final) reference to the original series. Otherwise, “The Forever Purge” would definitely have passed as a film that depicts an America of the future drawn by the Trump administration and of course (or hopefully) exaggerated. The wall to Mexico is up and racial hatred has taken over. It’s almost logical that the characters portrayed as antagonists in “The Forever Purge” can be recognized at first glance as radical racists – for example, by a bold swastika tattoo directly on their cheek. And who knows what abysses will open up once the pink killer bunnies take off their masks!? Either way, the dissection of the “normal citizen” that was at least rudimentary in the previous parts no longer takes place here. The murderers, armed to the teeth, would certainly have attacked their enemies even without a purge. But perhaps they wouldn’t have set up such creative traps for this one; At least in the first half hour, “The Forever Purge” could also be considered a kind of “street version” of “Saw”. And even if such ideas have moved further and further away from the minimalist franchise idea over time, at least the Purger’s creative masquerades, weapons and murder ideas have exerted a nasty fascination in the “Purge” films. True to the motto: If you can kill people once a year, then at least in a creative way!
Everything boils down to a big street fight.
A trap (which is clearly recognizable as such) from which a goat wants to be freed, whereupon the brave goat rescuer is first trapped between the bars, then pulled up onto the trap and finally has to wait here for its bloody execution, is enough From a technical point of view, it’s really something, even if you ask the stupid racist killers why, with their “We’ll just shoot everything that gets in our way!” mentality, they even bother setting such elaborate traps build. But be that as it may: at least James deMonaco, who also works as an author here, presents us with at least one scene that will remain in our memory afterwards. Otherwise, what stands out negatively about “The Forever Purge” is not only the clichéd characterization of all the characters – including the good guys – but above all because of its one-sided, uncreative staging. Cameraman Luis David Sansans captures a scene in which the victims of the Forever Purgers hide from them and their firearms in a car and endure the ensuing hail of bullets (“The Belko Experiment”) as a dull shot-counter-shot blast from which no tension can develop at all. Especially not if you are completely indifferent to the people who are being attacked. This ultimately develops the tonality for the rest of the film: a huge, emotionally distant street fight and escalation of violence that, like everything before, rushes past you.
“The Forever Purge is not only negatively noticeable because of the clichéd characterization of all the characters – including the good guys – but above all because of its one-sided, uncreative staging.”
“The Forever Purge” would be perfect for putting a finger in the (political) wound, similar to the third part. The fact that even the new founding fathers, the developers of the Purge, are now distancing themselves from their idea is only worth a side note, although this would finally be an opportunity to get to the bottom of the idiocy behind the Purge. And anyone hoping for a bit of gore – after all, the fourth film offered a few delicacies – will also be disappointed. Instead, he gets lots of predictable jump scares that were designed on the drawing board. And you just don’t want to see that anymore in 2021.
Conclusion: With “The Forever Purge,” franchise creator James deMonaco and his director Everardo Gout once again show that he did not understand the fantastic idea behind the purge, but instead used it again as background noise for an interchangeable horror action film that also exists without the idea of the purge would have worked. Well, or not.
“The Forever Purge” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 12, 2021.