The Forever Purge
Starring Josh Lucas, Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Cassidy Freeman, Will Patton, Leven Rambin
“The Purge” series of films takes aim at Texas in its latest installment, more specifically Marfa in West Texas. “The Forever Purge,” fifth in the horror franchise, focuses on immigration and white supremacy. The film was originally slated for a summer 2020 release, where the cruelty displayed on screen would resonate more with the tumultuous times of last summer. First-time feature film director Everardo Valerio Gout isn’t subtle linking Forever Purgers, as they call themselves, to real-life extremists groups. Josh Lucas (“Ford v Ferrari”) and Will Patton (“Minari”) are the recognizable names joining the series after Ethan Hawke began it back in 2013, followed by Frank Grillo and Marisa Tomei in subsequent sequels. “The Forever Purge” breaks out of the plot structure we have seen repeated four previous times, focusing on groups all trying to survive the night. This expands into a more stereotypical horror movie plot as Americans race to the Mexico borders for safety.
Having just crossed the border, welcoming a new life in the land of the free, Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta) find employment and get involved in the West Texas community. Juan lands a job at a local ranch for the Tucker family. Patriarch and widower Caleb Tucker (Will Patton) doesn’t treat Juan and the other immigrants under his employment like lesser individuals. He even provides them with extra cash on the eve of the annual blood holiday. Caleb’s son Dylan (Josh Lucas) doesn’t think one race is better than the other, but he believes each race should stick with their own and leave each other alone. When Juan and the others arrive back at work following the purge, a designated day where all violence is legal, they find the Tuckers in need of aid from vigilante Forever Purgers popping up all over the United States, vowing to “disinfect” America from immigrants.
While the film nearly creates discussion and talking points, the entire premise of this series has been built on violence, not intelligence, often resulting in laughter instead of fear.
If you have ever been to Marfa, you know its population is predominately liberal, democratic and creative artistic types. The exterior city shots of Marfa, including the iconic water tower that sits downtown alongside the courthouse in Presidio County, eventually fall and burn during the course of the film, courtesy of visual effects. While the actors and interiors are filmed in California, the name of the Texas county where the events take place is modified from the real Presidio County to a fictional Los Feliz. After four previous films, the diversely-cast horror franchise doesn’t have much new ground to explore, so the Marfa element might be a welcome distraction for those familiar with the art town.
While the actual night of the purge only lasts about 10 minutes on screen, the preceding events of violent rioting and anarchy take center stage. The dystopian thriller creates a scenario where Americans not associated with the Forever Purge groups are fleeing their own country as the government and military lose control. Canada and Mexico open their borders for only six hours as Adela and Juan race back to the country they left at the beginning of the film. The aim here is to flip the perspective; our protagonists are even aided by Native Americans as they run for their lives away from Texas. While the film nearly creates discussion and talking points, the entire premise of this series has been built on violence, not intelligence, often resulting in laughter instead of fear. “The Forever Purge” is less violent than its predecessors, but more social points are being made between the jump scares.
The Purge series goes to Texas, attempting to redefine a franchise desperate for new provocation.