FNew franchises have squandered a fertile premise as completely as the Purge, which in four installments—The purge, The anarchy of the purge, The purge: election year, and The first purge, not to mention the short-lived TV series, has moved further and further away from nightmarish horror and towards leaden, action-oriented political preaching. The purge forever, the fifth chapter in the Unkillable series (in theaters July 2), in many ways does not go down that whimsical path, telling a sharp story about immigration that once again takes itself far too seriously. Nonetheless, there are flashes of gonzo inspiration to this hyper-violent saga, most of them having to do with the doomsday fantasies of the white nationalists that drive right-wingers today.
Written by Purge creator James DeMonaco, who entrusts the reign of directing to Everardo Gout, The purge forever leans over the Texas border, which Mexican immigrants Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta) traverse via an underground tunnel, led by a young guide who provides the first of the film’s many cheap scares. Ten months later, Adela is thriving in a meat-packing plant and Juan is a true horse whisperer on Caleb Tucker’s (Will Patton) ranch, much to the chagrin of Caleb’s heir, Dylan (Josh Lucas), who is introduced by Juan trying to break a bucking bronco. “Your son doesn’t like me because I’m Mexican,” Juan tells Caleb soon after, articulating a dynamic so obvious the line seems ridiculously unnecessary. This fits pretty much every dialogue in DeMonaco’s storyline, in which Juan directly confronts Dylan about his intolerance, to which Dylan explains that he doesn’t hate Mexicans, he just thinks people should stick to their own. species.
Dylan’s separate but even speech is meant to make him a more palatable cowboy. The gesture doesn’t really work, but it doesn’t matter, since The purge forever make sure the public recognizes that the real bad guys in this alter-America are angry white militiamen. Since the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) reinstated the Purge – a night of lawlessness in which all crime disappears – everyone takes cover during the “vacation.” At dawn, they all breathe a sigh of relief. Sadly, the chaos has only just begun, as a new movement called “Ever After Purge” has decided that 12 hours of carnage is not enough. Instead, they believe the bloody festivities should continue until the nation is “cleansed” of anyone who does not fit into their psychotic plans for the United States.
This is bad news for Juan, Adela and their friend (Alejandro Edda), who are slandered by their neo-Nazi enemies as “brownies”. But it also creates problems for Dylan, his pregnant wife Emma Kate (Cassidy Freeman), his sister (Leven Rambin) and his father, who quickly fall prey to a disgruntled ranch who wants to upset the rich and poor status quo and confiscate. the Tucker’s wealth for himself. The idea that white-red nationalists are primarily motivated by economic concerns – rather than their hatred of “the other” – is more than questionable. Wisely, however, The purge forever soon put that suggestion aside for a larger picture of a deeply divided America. Forced to unite to survive, Dylan, Adela, Juan and their comrades fly through a burning Texas, and the vision evoked by DeMonaco and Gout is that of a country living fully its insurrectionary dreams like the 6th January.
In this regard, The purge forever uses his vanity to imagine the extreme costs of allowing the hateful and treacherous madness to be unleashed. Gout’s film is set in the twisted Wild West genre that the Proud Boys and Three Percenters covetly covet. In the process, he playfully and persuasively conveys the idea that once Pandora’s Box is opened, the end result is inexorable calamity. It’s a storyline that feels like a razor, and proves to be most energized during the intervening passages of the proceedings, when its motley characters are forced to shut their mouths and make their way through rural and urban streets. strewn with corpses, covered with fascist badges (Ever After Purgers favors a logo featuring triangles and a skull), and stained with crimson.
Unfortunately, The purge forever doesn’t keep its protagonists silent long enough, causing them to make so many moan-worthy statements that it’s hard not to feel harassed. Rather than letting its action speak, the film makes Adela and Juan discuss the melting pot and the American dream; forces Caleb to admit that white people stole their land from their original native owners; and has a Native American TV talker (Zahn McClarnon), in reference to taking up arms against homicidal Caucasians, “I’ve been fighting this fight for 500 years!” Whenever such silliness on the nose points the head, which is far too often, the material’s schlocky electricity is dampened, exacerbated by the performance of lead (especially Huerta) which is irreparable wood.
The switch between madness and bleak evangelism is a Purge problem, and it is no different here, because The purge forever goes to playfully mocking Ever After Purgers as creepy incestuous bizarre (killer continues to refer to his young wife as “Mother,” in an apparent nod to Mike Pence) and overturning social paradigms by presenting itself as a Latin savior tale in which Adela and Juan’s border crossing skills grant Dylan and his clan the liberation they seek – and which, apparently, they would otherwise deny their fellow refugees from the south of the border. This last point is made evident by a watershed turning point involving El Paso falling so catastrophically into the hands of the Ever After Purgers that Americans are advised to flee to Mexico and Canada. Still, the movie doesn’t do much with this cheeky turn of events, simply using it as a catalyst for limp skirmishes, shootouts, and race-against-the-clock suspense.
DeMonaco’s determination to continue indulging in his most judgmental impulses serves The purge forever evil, as does a dearth of exploitation cinema and a dearth of menacing and creative masks that have always been the hallmark of the series. Yet even in light of these shortcomings, The purge forever is just enough inflammatory to suggest that while it must inevitably end, the franchise is not yet out of gas.