By: Kayla Caldwell
THE FOREVER PURGE, directed by Everardo Gout, and the fifth in the series' franchise, will make you angry. Either, it will make you angry because what started out as a dystopian horror franchise has become an all-too-real reflection of the current state of race relations in this country. Or, if you’re racist, you’ll be mad because the political messaging in this film is not subtle.
I’m talking, Mexico and Canada opening their borders to accept refugees, running from America’s “Forever Purge.” News broadcasters musing out loud if these “American Dreamers” will get their chance at safety in Mexico.
Let’s rewind. THE FOREVER PURGE begins with a look at Juan (Tenoch Huerta) and his wife Adela (Army of the Dead’s Ana de la Reguera), who made the difficult journey to America from Mexico in the hopes of attaining better lives. Juan works for Dylan Tucker (Josh Lucas) on his ranch, which is filled with Mexican workers, despite the fact that Dylan clearly has nothing but disdain for them.
I’m always amazed when viewing The Purge movies at how soon after the siren people rush back out onto the streets, with nothing but that alarm to signify that crime is once again illegal. THE FOREVER PURGE finally addresses that concern, as those on the Tucker farm, and others like it, find themselves surrounded by a group who feel that 12 hours of purging is just not enough. The leader of the pack is even one of Dylan’s employees. He vows that he and his boss will trade places, with all of Dylan’s money going to him, as everyone who matters to Mr. Tucker is murdered.
That makes it seem like this movie follows the disenfranchised as they take back the country. But that’s not quite right. The real “Forever Purge” proponents are a bunch of neo-Nazis who want to “purify” America, and bring it back to the way it once was - or, in other words, “Make America Great Again.” Of course, this historical nostalgia is also a bit of amnesia, as the terrorist groups don’t realize that they weren’t even the first ones to claim this land. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that Americans completely ignored the indigenous people whose land they've stolen.
I don’t want to spoil too much, except to say that you don’t have to worry about Dylan becoming a white savior. Sure, as the movie progresses, he begins to realize how much his life depends on working with the people he used to look down upon. However, he is not the hero of this film. That distinction goes to characters like Adela, Juan, and T.T. (Alejandro Edda). Reguera delivers another bad a** performance to remember, alongside Leven Rambin, who, as character Harper Tucker, tells her racist peers to shove it, before joining the battle herself. Her character even has a really cute - albeit cheesy - romantic story line, if you can believe it.
Gregory Zaragoza stars as Chiago, a native leader who risks his own life to help American refugees escape to safety. It’s really powerful to see people like Chiago and Juan put themselves on the line to save people like Dylan, who would be fine with them continuing to be subjugated forever. Dylan is the kind of person who believes things like, "I'm not racist - I just think we should all be separated by race and leave each other alone." Juan and T.T. could easily have run away and left the Tuckers to fend for themselves (as many would have). Or, they could even have joined in on the killing. We've already seen Dylan scolding his employees, fanning the flames of their rage. However, Juan and T.T. put their personal issues aside to try to save a family in peril. The message is that we have a better chance of surviving when we band together, instead of letting every little difference tear us apart.
Meanwhile, the advocates of the “Forever Purge” rage with a gusto similar to that of those who support the Confederacy. They've even designed their own flag to show the America they want to be a part of. These are the people who ignore science and history and seemingly all logic to further their own agenda. We don't negotiate with terrorists, and you clearly can't argue with them, either. THE FOREVER PURGE would feel heavy-handed if we weren’t living through the chaotic times that we are. Instead, it just reaffirms the bleakness of our current reality. And don't think we missed the absolute audacity that is releasing this movie over the Fourth of July weekend. Talk about something to celebrate!
If you view entertainment as escapism, you may want to sit this installment out. It does feel a little too real at times. However, fans of The Purge franchise will find all of the gore, scares, and brutal kills that they’ve come to love. Just don’t be surprised when you’re served a big dose of reality along with it.
THE FOREVER PURGE is in theaters now!