I really didn’t care for The First Purge. I had high hopes for that one mainly because Marisa Tomei was involved, but alas that film was a misfire. I went into this newest Purge film hoping that this one would be better and thankfully it was. For the most part, The Forever Purge creates a much better formula than the previous two films. There are actual characters here that you come to really care about and root for. On top of that, I found the storyline to be more interesting. The plot of this film has something more substantive than the previous Purge films and I appreciated that.
The story that we are presented with here deals with racism, power dynamics in society, and immigration. I found all of these plot ingredients to be highly relevant. They don’t shy away from unmasking the ugly bigotry and lethal hatred that can be found within society. There’s always been a thought provoking nature to this franchise but this one really went for it in a way I don’t feel like the past films did.
The villains aren’t simply bloodthirsty for the hell of it, they’re motivated by white supremacy and xenophobia. I like that they chose to focus on these kinds of topics instead of just having an empty bloodbath. Some folks might complain and say that “Hollywood is preaching” but honestly these types of attitudes by white Americans towards immigrants is very real. And I didn’t feel like they sacrificed thrills in order to deliver this message, they found a way to intertwine the two.
Some of the ways in which the villains go about their “mission” is truly terrifying. They show these evil bigots for what they are and in one case in particular, expose their agenda for what it really is. A nice balance is found, though they aren’t overly gratuitous in their depiction. You have to make sure to expose the evil so that the audience really feels the impact but you must be careful not to veer into torture porn.
There is of course intense violence that goes on here, but I liked that most of the more graphic stuff was done off screen. By them choosing not to show us every gory detail they proved that their intent wasn’t to make a torture porn style horror film – which is greatly appreciated by me. I like horror films that are entertaining and thrilling and smart, not ones that only exist to show us nasty carnage. The thrills and scares are decent, I did jump 3 or 4 different times. Honestly, most of the intensity is rooted in not wanting these people to perish amongst all the chaos.
I really liked the characters we’re presented with here. The last film had awful character development and I can’t even remember one of them, but here they place importance on making sure these are people we are going to root for. Everyone in this cast does a good job but the real standout is Ana de la Reguera. Reguera shines by making her character come off as both compassionate and tough. She’s a sweet loving person who knows how to fight and doesn’t play around with the villains here. She’s one of the best characters of this franchise.
Tenoch Huerta is also really good here as Reguera’s husband. Huerta, similar to Reguera, plays a loving person who will not hesitate when it comes to fighting evil. Josh Lucas actually plays a man that comes off as a bad guy in the beginning. As The Forever Purge progresses, we see him for what he really is: a loving guy that needed some exposure to other cultures. I liked the arc they gave Lucas’s character because some people who are ignorant or insensitive to other cultures can in fact change. The optimist in me always loves to believe that people have the ability to banish their narrowmindedness.
The one main negative I found here was that the main white supremacist villain was rather weak. I thought that character could’ve been handled better. He comes into play halfway through The Forever Purge and ends up being the main villain they must contend with towards the end. I found it odd that they chose to introduce the person who turns out to be the big villain in the end halfway through, that just felt off to me.
All in all, The Forever Purge is a step up for the franchise. This film isn’t great and yeah there are better options within the horror genre but I did have a pretty good time and I really appreciate the well developed characters and the important social commentary.
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