Review by Sean Boelman
The ultimate underdog in horror franchises, the Purge movies have taken what started as a home invasion thriller with a creative premise and turned it into something much bigger. The Forever Purge, perhaps the series’s most expansive entry since The Purge: Anarchy, offers more of the same thrills, albeit with nothing even resembling subtlety.
The film follows a group of people who try to survive as a movement of rebels continues on a rampage of terror after the period for the Purge ends. There’s always been an element of slightly dystopian sci-fi to this franchise, but making the lawlessness into something unsanctioned brings it closer to reality than it has ever been before, especially after having seen the display of violence at the Capitol earlier this year.
In the last three movies, we have seen the subtext turn into outright text, and James DeMonaco’s script for this fifth entry is the most aggressive yet. These films exist to call out the classism and racism that exists within American society, and here, DeMonaco sets his eyes on xenophobia regarding the immigration crisis as his target.
This is also the most action-packed movie in the franchise since Anarchy. Unlike Election Year and The First Purge, which set out to do something a bit more elevated (and failed, in the latter case), The Forever Purge returns to the series’s popcorn entertainment roots without abandoning its message. And some of the action set pieces are absolutely great.
As always, the characters here are stock characters that aren’t all that interesting. There’s the stuck-up white guy who has to learn a bit of compassion, and the (not-so) secretly badass immigrant who proves all of the racists wrong. There isn’t much substance to their arcs, but ultimately, the substance in the film lies in the very obvious dialogue.
Following in the trend of the series, we have a couple notable actors in the movie (Josh Lucas, Will Patton), and the rest of the cast is composed of up-and-comers. Between this and Army of the Dead, Ana de la Reguera seems most poised for a breakout as she shows a lot of talent in pulling off action, but Tenoch Huerta is great here too.
The visuals are absolutely chaotic, but it works given the nature of the film. One of the other things that allows this to stand out from the rest of the franchise is that there is a substantial portion of the action which takes place during the day, allowing the filmmakers to do some interesting things in a genre that is often shrouded in darkness.
The Forever Purge is by no means a great movie, but it delivers exactly what audiences have come to expect from this franchise. It’s getting to a point where this franchise seems like it’s running out of ideas, but for now, it’s still entertaining.
The Forever Purge hits theaters on July 2.