James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Cole Clay // Film Critic
THE FOREVER PURGE
Rated R, 103 minutes.
Director: Everardo Gout
Cast: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin, Alejandro Edda, Will Patton and Zahn McClarnon
Opens Friday in theaters nationwide.
It’s hard to discern exactly what the goals of THE PURGE series are. Are these films attempting to provide a sly commentary against America’s obsession with guns? Or is this world, from the dark and uber twisted mind of The Joker—excuse me, James DeMonaco (who serves as chief screenwriter/creative), only appealing to the violence that may be lurking inside us all?
Or could the end game of THE PURGE empower marginalized communities who would most likely be targeted against thirsty “”purgers””? DeMonaco, who has a knack for world-building, doesn’t capitalize on providing an answer to either of these questions. With any of the now five films that take place inside this disgusting version of America.
Each film attempts to cover a microcosm of this universe, and THE FOREVER PURGE attempts to tackle the border crisis. However, instead of locking down and holding out for 12 hours, a group of radicalized followers of the “New Founding Fathers” have declared that the purge must go on until all undesirables are extinguished.
Directed by Everardo Gout (a television director journeyman) faces off against real-life threats that doubles for border walls, M*GA enthusiasm that penetrated the lives of millions, but most importantly, this film concerns the LatinX community. Unfortunately, the message gets a little muddled in each movie, showing a particular aspect of this new world order.
Stars Ana de La Reguera (ARMY OF THE DEAD), Josh Lucas (SWEET HOME ALABAMA), Will Patton (MINARI), and Tenoche Huerta (upcoming BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER) hold their own and give the film stakes. Each plays a subverted version of their respective archetypes. De la Reguera is a gun-toting housekeeper who used to assist in border crossings. Lucas is a wealthy landowner who’s a fairly nice dude until you hear he doesn’t allow his kids to speak Spanish. All the while, Zahn McClarnon delivers another steely supporting role, protecting the crew from purgers with his impressive crossbow skills.
There’s intrigue in this chapter. That has to do with the casting and the actors being surprisingly willing to give this schlocky and possibly offensive material some (with a lowercase g) gravitas. In addition, by showing that murderous purgers come from all walks of life, there’s a piece of the script that directly confronts its audience. But the chief offenders are not surprisingly angry white guys.
DeMonaco refrains from leaning too much into virtue signaling and keenly tries to get through to the type of mainstream audience member who would be for building a border wall. As a result, THE FOREVER PURGE is upfront and intentionally blunt in its delivery and serviceable exploitation cinema.
Gout’s directing starts to split at the seams with an awkward edit or some strange shot compositions, and that’s where the film loses momentum. After the characters are introduced and the table is set set pieces, or transition shots have an awkward cut, or the action isn’t clear. This aspect doesn’t run rampant as the blood starts to spill, but the film lacks the ingenuity to keep the surprises coming.
You can’t walk into any film from THE PURGE series and think you will be getting anything other than a version of “Grand Theft Auto”–that sort of half-heartedly tries to answer for America’s problems by asking a bunch of what-if questions. With THE FOREVER PURGE, the series finds a stroke of new life just hyperbolic enough not to be grounded in realism and not crazy enough to come off as conspiracy nonsense.
Eight years later, THE PURGE is still relevant. That could spell America isn’t quite ready to look inward, and that’s horrifying.