Released: 22nd July
Seen: 18th October

The Forever Image Info

The Purge franchise might be one of the most overtly political horror franchises in recent years, which is saying a lot considering how political the Horror genre can get. Pretty much since the second movie, the franchise has been a metaphor for classism, racism and the way fascism can spread fast through a population which has even the hint of a suggestion that such behaviour is allowed. It’s always been a little controversial and very blunt, but usually, it can make for a half-decent time… The Forever Purge certainly has some political ideas that resonate today, just doesn’t really go all-in on them and that makes for a frustrating watch.

The Forever Purge takes place 8 years after The Purge: Election Year with the New Founding Fathers regaining control of America and instantly restarting The Purge. Things seem to go as they always do on purge night with some people deciding to stay home and keep safe while others roam the streets in elaborate masks and shoot people because they can’t think of any other interesting crimes beyond murder and can’t think of any more interesting ways to do murder than with a gun.

The day after the purge returns, the cleanup begins and some people start trying to return to normal… but that’s when it becomes apparent that a large number of purgers have decided that the purge will now last forever, they’re taking their country back and cleansing it of anyone who isn’t white pure blooded American. It’s an all-out bloodbath and the only way out is to get over the border to Mexico, did I mention this franchise is not subtle?

Considering The Forever Purge was made between November 2019 and February 2020, it’s almost impossible to not draw a direct line between the story presented here and the insurrection of Jan 6th, 2021. It’s kind of stunning, a group of people who got what they wanted decide they don’t want to give it up (despite that being the rules everyone’s always agreed to) and so they go and break everything and do a lot of racist bullshit because they’re bad people. It’s genuinely stunning how prescient this movie is and it honestly makes me wish that they’d leaned into that when it became obvious that The Forever Purge wasn’t getting released until July 2nd of 2021… just saying, a few more scenes and this could’ve been special.

Though unintentional, it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to link the story of The Forever Purge to the story of the insurrection, yet no one at the studio thought to hire some actors to play the president watching this with glee? Sure it’d be on the nose but it would be actual political commentary and that’s kinda the thing that The Forever Purge seems to lack. It has political imagery, but it feels like it’s there just because it’s expected without them using it to say anything. All it would take is a few cutaways of an obvious Trump analogue to make some commentary about how this kind of insanity doesn’t happen without a particularly evil man at the head of it,

The Forever Purge (2021), Will Brittain
The Forever Purge (2021), Will Brittain

As usual with The Purge franchise, The Forever Purge is a blunt as hell story where the racists are pure evil villains who need to be stopped and the good guys are immigrants and those who side with them. That’s a fine set of characters to have, it’s the right dynamic to have (Nazi’s suck, I enjoy it when films make that point as bluntly as possible) but notice how I’ve yet to mention a single character name or any actors in this film? Yeah, that’s because it doesn’t matter. None of these characters is interesting, memorable or are there for anything other than the broadest of broad strokes storytelling or to be shot with a lot of bullets because that’s the only weapon purgers ever seem to use.

When The Forever Purge leans hard into calling out the racist bullshit, it’s actually kind of fun. Seeing racists get their comeuppance will always be a delightful thing… what’s less delightful is how the film just completely focuses on the people in the thick of battle. What made the past few films in the franchise work was the scenes where we’d cut away to see the New Founding Fathers orchestrating everything, the bureaucracy behind something like The Purge gave the films a serious political bite that made them more than just a bunch of movies where a bunch of idiots shot each other for 2 hours.

The lack of interesting lead characters means you can only really get invested in The Forever Purge as an overall story and the story they’re telling (bunch of people try to cross the border into Mexico because America has turned into a murder happy hellscape) just isn’t that interesting because… well, we’ve seen it before and it just doesn’t fit with what this franchise has done before. This franchise has always been very pointed about people standing and fighting against the fascists, pointing out that fascism comes from those at the top.

It’s not subtle… but here, they held back so much that it exploses the big flaws with this franchise… namely it’s just a bunch of assholes shooting other assholes for no reason other than “It’s allowed now”. No one really thinks of any fun interesting murder methods, none of the characters have any motivation for taking part in the Purge other than “Why the hell not?”. Without the over the top blunt as hell political stuff, The Purge just doesn’t work (Something everyone should’ve learned after the first movie in this franchise basically got forgotten the second we had the superior sequels)

That’s honestly the thing that keeps The Forever Purge from being good, it doesn’t really seem to have the political bite that the other films had. This series is at its best when it’s an unapologetic political satire that takes the current political climate and turns it up to 11 in order to make a point… maybe it’s because this year we saw real-world American politics get as insane as they will ever get but after that, The Forever Purge just feels kind of toothless in comparison to what we’ve been living through. Throw on top of that just a boring series of deaths (we get it, guns are everywhere, someone please pick up a chainsaw and do something with it!) and characters that are there but not really doing anything and you have a film that had the potential do say something but instead chose to shut the hell up

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