The Forever Purge Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Universal Pictures
Directed by Everardo Gout
Written by James DeMonaco
2021, 103 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 16th July 2021
Ana de la Reguera as Adela
Tenoch Huerta as Juan
Josh Lucas as Dylan Tucker
Leven Rambin as Harper Tucker
The Purge might have been successfully abolished in Election Year but it’s back again already. With the Purge recently reinstated, America looks forward to its annual night of abject lawlessness and bastardry without boundaries. But what the New Founding Fathers and American public can’t have predicted – this one won't be stopping, even after the morning klaxons ring. What, alt-right assholes and racists refusing to accept that their time is up, and destroying their own country as a result? Whoever could have predicted it?
Slaughterhouse worker Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and ranch hand Juan (Tenoch Huerta) are caught in the middle as a dangerous sect of Purgers decide to claim America 'for Americans’, going after immigrants with a vengeance. Also in the line of fire: the wealthy Tucker family, led by kindly patriarch Caleb (Will Patton) and his bigoted son, Dylan (Josh Lucas). Now the race is on for Adela, Juan and the Tuckers to cross the border to Mexico, before it’s too late.
What started as a relatively basic home invasion movie in The Purge has since spiralled into something altogether more political, starting with Election Year, before moving on to the reactionary First Purge. Everardo Gout’s The Forever Purge (said to be the final one in the franchise… but we’ll see) continues down that path, coming in the real-life aftermath of you-know-who’s presidency and following the you-know-what of January 6th. The Purgers are depicted as right-wing crazies cynically manipulated by the government, using the Purge as an excuse to hunt and murder immigrants. There was always an element of that, even in the first film, but The Forever Purge makes text out of subtext, and turns the Purgers into neo-Nazis and redneck hillbillies.
Matters are complicated by the presence of moody racist Dylan, who hates the Purge but thinks that different races should “stick to their own”. He and Juan are bonded when the ranch hand saves the Tuckers’ lives, throwing the two families together on a desperate dash for the Mexican border. It’s a smart, if on-the-nose reversal of fortunes for the rich white family. The Forever Purge is Dylan’s learning moment, and everyone else is just along for the ride.
The film is lucky to have Lucas, who gives the role a grit and intensity the franchise hasn’t seen since Frank Grillo. Huerta and de la Reguera do well with what they’re dealt – but that’s not a lot. The characters are horribly underwritten, serving only as stooges for the film to hang its politics on. Instead, the film follows the gang as they battle their way to the border, taking on roaming gangs of marauders and lone crazies. Gout turns his entry into a modern Western, utilizing a bit of Mad Max on the side too. The action isn’t as thrilling as it has been in previous entries, but nor is it so much of a focus here. With the characters caught off-guard by the latest iteration of the Purge, it’s one of the tensest films in the series – particularly in its early moments. There’s one especially great sequence, set in the back of a police van, where the cops try to work out what’s happening, while a chained-up Nazi hollers his head off, hell breaking loose on the streets.
The Forever Purge has a lot to say, and will likely lose chunks of its audience because of the heavy-handed messaging. Since throwing Election Year under the bus and going back to Year One in The First Purge, the franchise has gradually distanced itself from its dystopian sci-fi roots. Now it’s a warning letter to our own America (or yours... I'm British), and the boiling pot of hatred that the country has become. A vital message, but not a particularly subtle one – delivered in a blunt lecture by an old white guy. That the old white guy is Will Patton makes the pill easier to swallow, but the allegories never feel organic. The more the world of the Purge resembles our own, the less it resembles the world of the Purge.
Perhaps more so than any other modern franchise, The Purge is constantly re-inventing itself – from home invasion movie to brutal action thriller to apocalyptic western. The Forever Purge is the most ambitious iteration yet, and its events won’t be so easily shrugged off as Election Year’s were. But perhaps the casual dismissal of Election Year is the point? The Forever Purge only goes to show that, whatever our aspirations, that kind of hate doesn’t just… go away or dissipate. You can try to abolish the Purge, or restrict it to one night a year, but once that kind of hatred has been let loose upon the world? There’s no coming back from that.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.