Directed By Everardo Gout
Starring – Ana de la Reguera, Tenoch Huerta, Josh Lucas
The Plot – All the rules are broken as a sect of lawless marauders decides that the annual Purge does not stop at daybreak and instead should never end.
Rated R for strong/bloody violence, and adult language throughout
– Sociological balance. As is the case with each of these Purge movies, there’s an aspect of stimulating social commentary that provides a reflective glance into our own cultural differences, providing a nightmare scenario for our worst fears come to life in a world where anything quite literally can, and often will happen. However, there’s an appreciative balance to its inclusion here that keeps it from ever feeling heavy-handed, and allowing it to mature naturally on the interactions that open the eyes of both of the characters. It speaks volumes to the idea that more of our differences would be worked out if we were forced to spend time with those we deem as “Different”, allowing us to appreciate one another for the conflicts at hand that are easier relegated if we attack them in unity, instead of continuously at odds.
– Pivotal personalities. Unlike the previous two Purge films, this one provides ample time during the initial first act to flesh out the characterization from a group of protagonists with a surprisingly nourishing element of depth to their respective characters. On one side of the coin is the Mexican couple, who are fleeing their homeland not only for the promise of opportunity and endless riches, but also from a drug cartel that provides the necessary urgency to their spontaneous escape. The other side of things comes from a rich, white family, who in a lesser film would be completely one-dimensional in their interactions with aforementioned co-ensemble, but here unravel their defenses with a growing appreciation that zeroes in on the element of humanity above all else. It provided many unique dynamics of exploration that the film competently articulates consistently throughout, which in turn provides an abundance of stakes, to which the previous two films came and went with very little.
– Fresh direction. Perhaps my single biggest appreciation for the film, and one that allows it to stand out on its own, are the chances it takes in the world created four films ago, that keeps this idea feeling as innovative as ever in the context of immersive cinema. Not only is the setting different here, opting for an agricultural countryside in the daytime, instead of rural suburbia at night, but the furthering of matters beyond the Purge, complete with clean-ups and backstory insights grant a very lived-in quality to the storytelling that was previously only topical in such matters. Finally, Gout supplants a seismic scale in his focus that makes matters feel globally resonant for the first time ever, all the while taking us through devastation and disaster that makes this feel like anything other than the temporary insanity that we’ve come to expect from this one night of terror each year.
– Cinematic flourishing. Most of the production woes damn this film from ever reaching its true potential, but the one element that I did appreciate from the production is the chances taken with the cinematography from Luis David Sansans that creates some truly riveting sequences. Most especially, it’s the long take navigating movements that continuously bottle the intensity and overwhelming anxiety of each sequence, all the while immersing us in the elements within the environment that feel virtually inescapable for the limited cuts of levity granted during such sequences. Sansans’ action sequences also convey a smoldering claustrophobia in the close documentation he frames each character in shot with, compromising the limitation in visuals surrounding them, but also providing an engaging enveloping that forces us the audience to endure the uncertainty in the same vein that the characters do; blindsided and constantly surrounded.
– Aggressive pacing. As I previously mentioned, the first act of the film supplies ample time to meet and interpret our protagonists, but what is equally prominent is the fluid movements with the storytelling itself that keeps this 97 minute run time from ever stalling its execution. If you’ve watched the trailers, it’s easy to understand that The Purge itself comes and goes so very early into the film, but that’s only the beginning of what materializes creatively for the remainder of the picture. From there, the next conflict inserts itself almost immediately after, keeping our protagonists on the assertive quite frequently throughout, before setting up a meaningful climax of urgency with its own literal race against the clock for what they’re fighting against. It’s a film that never overstays its welcome, all the while intensifying the stakes that constantly allow it to redefine itself, feeling like one of the more consistently entertaining sequels of the franchise for the abundance of locations and conflicts that deconstruct every twenty minutes.
– Creative costuming. Even when other elements of the horror unfortunately underwhelm, the budget dedicated to masks and costumes generates a cultural influence that feels unlike anything else previously established in four movies with similarly structured plots. For my money, the best is definitely the masked cowboy group, made all the more subtly unnerving with the combination of red and black make-up surrounding their eyes, giving it an emphasis for the windows into the soul that supply no shortage of fuel for the proverbial fire. The killer bunnies showcased prominently throughout the trailers were also a satisfyingly sinister touch to something originally so cute and cuddly, and made demonically demented with beety red eyes and a weathered design to give you nightmare fuel for the forseeable future.
– Cheap production. You can notice this in nearly every aspect of the visual presentation. The editing is sloppily discharging through the worst moments of sequencing, that often undercut the element of tension in each scene, The horrendously bad special effects mostly reside during daytime sequences instead of the typical night, so they’re all the more distractingly obvious when they materialize in frame, and the color grading for the film cements one of the laziest, ugliest aesthetic presentations that I have seen in quite sometime, eliciting an overwhelming air of post-production instead of the element of authenticity that the film needs terribly to prescribe believability to what it entails. Blumhouse Pictures never reach for an inflated budget to captivate audiences with its presentations, but “The Forever Purge” felt like bargain bin discount cinema that was made all the more alarming because I saw it on the big screen, rendering with it a feeling unfinished chaos whose experimentation doesn’t visually sync this up with its predecessors for all of the wrong reasons.
– Amateur sound. This aspect deserves its own section, for the way its laughably bad editing and mixing create no shortage of cinematic hiccups for audience experience. For my money, two of these are the worst, with the first supplying some scratchily haunting deliveries of A.D.R, that don’t even remotely line up with what the actor is so obviously saying with their lips. The second, and more monumental for me personally, was the abundance of sound effects, particularly screams, that were used for certain reactions, but then repeated somewhere else later in the film, by an entirely different character. When I say the same sound, I mean the exact same sound delivered in the exact same manner, an element that created for some unintentionally bad instances of laughter during sequences demanding seriousness for their elements of racism and classism.
– Lukewarm material. While the social commentary provided examples of stimulating conversation, the action and horror elements of the script underwhelmed at nearly every side of its shoddy execution. For the former, the limitations in frame from a tight-knit composition renders every element of influence indistinguishable from what we’re audibly interpreting. On the latter, the lack of violence or brutality from the opening half will be enough to alienate longtime audiences of the series, especially considering there’s very little to no value of substance or creativity to the brunt force of the physicality, that is highly forgettable even two scenes after viewing it. On top of this, the antagonists continue to be entirely short term to the majority of the material, imposing little to no stature to their protagonist counterparts, who more times than not make easy work of their opposition with little to no struggle in consequence free engagements meant to stimulate the audience.
My Grade: 6/10 or C