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The Forever Purge ★★★



Director: Everardo Valerio Gout

Cast: Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Will Patton, Josh Lucas, Cassidy Freeman, Leven Rambin

Released: 16th of July

Out of all the post-Bush American horror series, the Purge franchise has certainly had the most interesting trajectory: what originated as James DeMonaco’s modest riff on the home invasion subgenre has since fully transitioned into action-horror territory, albeit one that explicitly favours commentary on modern-day United States within its genre framework. The result of this Blumhouse effort is a haunting memento of the tumultuous decade in American history, one marred by the rise of far-right extremists and continuous effects of institutional racism that reinforces white supremacy movements. This time, however, the Purge siren roars for one last time with The Forever Purge, the fifth instalment that sees America in the state of end-stage failure — engulfed in flames and boiling with hatred.

For the first time in the history of the franchise, The Forever Purge takes place in the Deep South. Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), two immigrants from Mexico who fled the country on the grounds of drug cartel activity, are about to spend their first Purge night in Texas. Juan works at a local ranch of the wealthy Tucker family, where his talent is met with approval from the family patriarch, Caleb (Will Patton), and severe hostility from his nativist son, Dylan (Josh Lucas). On the eve of the Purge, Ana and Juan take refuge at a local anti-Purge facility. At the same time, the Tucker family members spend the night at their luxurious ranch with advanced security systems. However, this Purge event turns out to be an organised white supremacy movement that extends far beyond the permitted 12-hour period, forcing both families to flee the country in hopes of finding safety on the Mexican land.

Seeing a franchise that started under the Obama administration gradually change its tone and come to the conclusion that America will eventually end up eating itself has been nothing short of fascinating. The hopeful ending of the third entry, Election Year, now looks like a candid reminder of the pre-Trump naiveté and the calm before the storm, eventually making way for the resolute and angry outcry of The First Purge in 2018. It’s only logical that the final chapter in the series makes the original thesis look utterly toothless in retrospect — there is simply nothing that could undo the damage. The Forever Purge has occasional streaks of oddly centrist, Biden-like hints at “unity” and “healing”, yet the graphic visual demonstration of the United States utterly consumed by violence and fire ring chillingly true in these post-Capitol attack times.

Everardo Valerio Gout, a newcomer to the franchise, directs the latest entry with casual confidence of both stylistic flair and blunt sociopolitical imagery, transporting the suburban Purge action well into the territory of American border cinema. The connotations of an exploitation horror film set across the US-Mexican border that involves immigrants returning to their native land could be a bizarrely backwards political statement, but one that certainly feels ironic in the context of a film that so vehemently criticises the current sociopolitical landscape of American politics. Just like the set pieces in The First Purge, even the explosive action has become more frenzied and wrathful, soaking the screen in riotous bloodshed and ferocious violence against trigger-happy neo-Nazi fetishists. It is all inherently a revenge fantasy for a nation tired of widespread hatred, yet one has to wonder why that righteous indignation ends on such a middle ground note of potential unity — a concept that goes very much against the film’s core idea of American downfall.

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