The American Dream is Lost in ‘The Forever Purge’

Josh Lucas as Dylan Tucker in The Forever Purge

The Forever Purge is an effective horror-action-thriller, albeit a predictable one. Set on the Mexican border, the film weaves in political commentary about immigration, the wealth gap, and supremacist militias trying to self-regulate society. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but perhaps we don’t give The Purge franchise enough credit for what it is: a grossly exaggerated and violent satire of the political landscape that has developed since the first movie’s release in 2013.

After fleeing the cartel violence in Mexico, Adela (Ane de la Reguera) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta) seek the American dream in Texas. Juan works as a ranch hand for the wealthy Tucker family, where he impresses the family patriarch, Caleb (Will Patton). However, Caleb’s disgruntled son, Dylan (Josh Lucas) is jealous and dislikes Juan. After the night of the annual Purge, violence still rages on in the streets and the Tucker family is attacked by a gang of masked killers. When Juan and fellow migrant co-worker T.T. (Alejandro Edda) save the Tucker family, the two families are forced to band together in their pursuit for sanctuary from a chaotic America. 

I remember when The Purge first came to theaters; I was in middle school. The concept of the movie intrigued me. A day where anything goes, including murder? It was something new in the horror genre, which was growing saturated with bad PG-13 jump scare flicks. Alas, I was too much of a wimp to actually go see The Purge. Fast forward eight years, and the franchise is still very much alive; there’s almost a new The Purge movie every year. Despite being the fifth film using the same formula, The Forever Purge maintains a degree of freshness with its border setting and by flipping the original premise on its head. 

The Forever Purge is more of an action than horror movie; I hardly found the film scary at all, at least not in the traditional sense. For those simply interested in the violence of the movie, there should be enough brains blown out and jugulars torn to satisfy you. What makes The Forever Purge unique from the rest of the franchise, is the film is more of a Western than anything else. There are cowboys and horses and bandanas. Our protagonists must navigate anarchy as if it was the Wild West, and because The Purge continues into the morning, a greater percentage of the movie is set in daylight in contrast to the other films. By setting the newest The Purge installment on the border, and giving it a genre twist, director Everardo Gout has given fans something new to look at – an important quality for the newest film in a franchise perhaps wearing a bit thin. 

An overtly political film, The Forever Purge is surprisingly in tune with what we see in the news on a regular basis. Racial supremacy and nativism have gripped hold of the country prior to the upcoming Purge, and there are those concerned this Purge will be different. They are proven right, as a group known as the “Purge Purification Force” lead a dangerous movement to cleanse the streets of anyone deemed not American – specifically Mexican immigrants. 

The Forever Purge may be as effective as a Pepsi commercial when it comes to curing race relations, but the film does at least depict the animosity directed at immigrants by white supremacists. In the end, everyone is just trying to make a living and protect their family, regardless of the color of their skin or how they came to America. Those who cannot see that and hate others who are different from them are depicted with zero humanity; they come off as crackpots. A particular example is a swastika-tatted man with road rage who, in the back of a prisoner-transport van, gets off by naming the guns in passerby based on their fire pattern. I wish I could say this was overt fiction. Unfortunately, underneath the excessive violence and murderous psychopaths, The Forever Purge perhaps strikes a little too close to home…and that might be its scariest quality of all.  

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Forever Purge is in theaters nationwide today

Author: Teddy Frederick

Movies have been my passion since I was a young teenager. I had realized how much I loved going to the theater and watching something on the big screen, and I wanted to feel that sensation as often as possible. I began seeing as many movies as my schedule and wallet could allow, and in wanting to give back to the film community and myself, I wrote film reviews. I first posted them under the audience reviews of Rotten Tomatoes; if I ever go back to those posts now I cringe at the writer I used to be. In 2018, I had the idea to start my own space to post my content and thus Movie Reviews Today was born. I am a film and media studies student at Arizona St. University. I am also a three-year shift supervisor with Starbucks. My hope is to soak up as many movies and movie knowledge as I can moving forward and to share my passion with my readers.

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