The Purge is one of the most lucrative horror franchises with the fewest amount of good entries. The first movie was understandably confined to a single house, and The Purge: Anarchy fulfilled the potential of the premise. The next two movies were so loud and bombastic it drowned out any fun to be had. The two seasons of the USA TV series came closest to telling coherent stories. The Forever Purge is hardly the worst of the series, compared to its two predecessors, but it’s time to call this franchise a wash.
‘The Forever Purge’ asks a big question it can’t answer
The Forever Purge begins like all of these movies do. Families settle into whatever security they can find as the siren announced the beginning of the annual purge. In most of these movies, the heroes get stuck outside the one night of the year that all crime, including murder, is legal. The Forever Purge characters successfully ride out this purge.
But, some masked purgers don’t stop the next day. So the Tucker family (Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin) flees their farm and connects with Adela (Ana de La Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) on the road. They spend the movie evading purgers.
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It’s a valid point. If you give people one night to murder do you really expect them to be able to turn it off the next day? This is an interesting dilemma for the world of this dystopian future, but writer and franchise creator James DeMonaco has no answer. It’s just another variation on chases and violence.
‘The Forever Purge’ purges all its good ideas
So, what would happen if people don’t stop purging and the government can’t really control them. That’s a scathing indictment of the premise. The government created a monster they can’t control, and the people who tolerated the purge are the ones who suffer. The Tuckers and co. also flee to Mexico where they are accepting “American dreamers” fleeing the violence. Just in case you were wondering if it would be heavy-handed.
These are almost compelling ideas, but The Forever Purge doesn’t really want to explore them. The movie only takes place the first two days after the purge. Now, you wouldn’t expect a movie to cover a whole year, or even a month, but two days is hardly enough to claim this is a new normal. Perhaps the rebellious sect could gain more followers and continue, but this film doesn’t even go there. Plus, it gives a pat ending epilogue that defangs any momentum it had.
The film takes the same approach to its own continuity. You may remember that at the end of The Purge: Election Year, a new President won the election and abolished the purge. This movie does a quick intro that the New Founding Fathers of America got re-elected and reinstated it. So that’s how much this franchise cares about continuity.
These movies are boring
The original movie was forgivable. It was a home invasion movie, so you could give them the benefit of the doubt that they were portraying one family’s experience on purge night. Anarchy started getting somewhere. But from Election Year on it became clear that just watching 90 minutes of violence isn’t exciting, and it sure isn’t smart enough to be cautionary.
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The last two movies used an aggressive, choppy style so at least The Forever Purge drops that gimmick. This one is coherent, but it’s still not exciting. After five movies and two season of TV you realize every purge is the same. People are running around with guns, maybe some blades. Nobody, absolutely nobody, has any clever ideas for what to do on purge night.
And maybe they wouldn’t in a real purge. The NFFA is counting on people’s basest instincts to kill each other. Filmmakers owe the audience a bit more, though. This franchise costs little enough that it makes a profit with modest box office every time out. At some point they’ve got to deliver on all this audience good will, though.
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