Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 43 minutes, Director – Everardo Gout
Racial tensions rise in America as the relaunched annual purge goes beyond its 12 hour limit. Leaving many people to flee to the Mexican border before it closes in just a matter of hours.
Since first appearing in 2013 the government warning system and sirens marking the start of the annual purge have become a distinct and recognisable sound in horror cinema. Even five films into the franchise they still have a somewhat eerie effect. However, something lingers beyond the alarms to signal what should be the closing of the purge in this latest entry. As the title suggests this is The Forever Purge. A racially motivated uprising is beginning and what initially seems like some small groups committing crimes beyond the legalised limit of 12 hours is soon revealed to be a much darker display of racist nationalism.
Finding themselves living in what is described early on as “The United States of Hate” are married couple Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta). They’re living a quiet life in the Southern States, close to the border wall through which they arrived less than a year before. However, when the country plunges into fiery chaos, with entire towns and cities being taken over by purgers, they find themselves fleeing for their lives to the Mexican border before it closes in just 6 hours to anyone who survives the journey.
Unlike previous films in the Purge franchise this entry doesn’t blend the fight for survival and purge elements as much. There’s much more focus on the fight that the characters are going through – alongside Juan and co-worker T.T. (Alejandro Edda)’s employer Dylan (Josh Lucas), who has a somewhat tense, antagonist relationship with his employee that mean he must set aside their differences, his wife Cassidy (Cassidy Freeman), and sister Harper (Leven Rambin). This is more alike to a survival thriller set during the Purge than the previous titles in the successful Blumhouse horror franchise, although there are one or two attempted jump scares present within this latest piece. This is about as far as the story goes. It’s relatively simple and travels along its course showing itself as what it is, not trying to be anything else or have multiple different meanings.
For fans of The Purge franchise there’s likely to be some entertainment factor here. The usual display of excessive gun use and chaos on the streets of poorer regions of America. While some of the action is a bit hard to follow due to multiple cuts and quick camera movements there’s certainly enough there throughout the just over 90 minute course of the film to hold your interest. Where the film succeeds is by further exploring exterior environments during the purge. The winding streets and dark alleyways all having a sense of danger, even when lit up by fire and explosions. The outdoor environments are certainly pushed a fair deal more than previous films, and are made the most of when it comes to the progression of the story and the forces that the characters encounter at various points in their journey to the border.
As for the political commentary it’s once again clearly on display, as it has been throughout the last couple of films. There are clearly a number of points being made in regards to racial attitudes within America – the plot, obviously, revolves around an attempted racial uprising and racial supremacy. It might seem a bit clunky at times and at others very much in the background, yet somehow the general narrative and panicked escape attempt of the central figures is still kept in focus and acts as the main push and drawing point of the film. The film flows well enough and while by the end it may very well be easily forgotten, for the time that it’s on The Forever Purge acts as serviceable amusement. Perhaps not on the strengths of other entries in the franchise, which by now has been said to have had about two or three final films, but it certainly plays to some of the better elements of them.
The Forever Purge feels like a film strongly impacted by delays, due to its themes more suited for release a year, or even two, ago. Yet, it’s likely to still please fans and some casual viewers for the watchable, yet forgettable, time it’s on.