This summer, one of the most successful horror franchises of the last decade will break all of its own rules with The Forever Purge, the fifth and apparently final film in the Purge franchise that launched in 2013 and showed us a terrifying world where all crime is legal for one night a year.
Like its predecessors, The Forever Purge features screenwriter and series creator James DeMonaco going all out to show us yet another aspect of a world where Americans can be as brutal as they want every Purge Night. Unlike those previous films, though, this installment promises to reveal what happens when an underground group decides that the rules of the Purge universe no longer apply to them, and that they can purge as long as they want.
So, what else do we know about The Forever Purge? Read on for your primer on the latest Purge flick before it hits theaters this July.
When will it be released?
Like so many films on the release calendar of the past two years, The Forever Purge has dealt with plenty of date reshuffling due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the various delays it forced on the box office. We were originally meant to see this film last July, months after its title was revealed just as the dangers of the pandemic were ramping up. That wasn't possible, of course, and so the film was pulled from the release schedule with no clear indication of when we might see it.
That changed last summer, when after months of waiting fans finally learned the film was set to arrive July 9, 2021. Earlier this year that date was shifted one week earlier to the current and final release date of July 2. At the moment, The Forever Purge will be a theatrical-only experience when it opens, but don't expect to wait too long before a video on-demand release date follows.
Longtime fans of the Purge franchise will know that it's named for the title event, an annual 12-hour period during which all crime in the United States of America, including murder, becomes legal. For one night each year, the police leave the streets, emergency services shut down, and anyone is allowed to do whatever they want, completely consequence-free. The idea, instituted by a right-wing political faction known as The New Founding Fathers, is that allowing citizens to "purge" their violent urges once a year curbs crime rates the rest of the time. Of course, as we all know, that's a very brutal and very shortsighted way of looking at things.
The Forever Purge is set after the events of The Purge: Election Year, the 2016 entry in the franchise that ended with new president Charlie Roan promising her first act in office would be to abolish the Purge. With that in mind, fans might be wondering how the world got back to a place where the annual Purge not only exists, but seems to be getting worse. According to series creator James DeMonaco, all it takes is a few years and a few more political shifts.
"I wouldn't call this a direct sequel because years have passed, and it's quickly revealed that a new regime has taken over," DeMonaco told SFX. "Charlie Roan, whose first move as President was to eliminate the Purge, wasn't re-elected and has been gone for years. The divide in America grew. The New Founding Fathers were voted back into power, and the Purge was reinstated."
So there you have it. After jumping into the past for The First Purge, the franchise's final installment is jumping further into the future for The Forever Purge. Geographically, the film will take us to the Texas-Mexico border, where a pair of families must fight against a group who wants the Purge to never end.
Who's who in The Forever Purge?
The Forever Purge begins with Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), a couple who fled Mexico for a better life in American and ended up working for the Tuckers, a family of wealthy ranchers in Texas.
"Adela and Juan are seeking sanctuary in the promise of America, not the horrible reality of what America has become in the Purge world," DeMonaco said of his protagonists. "They fled trouble in Mexico and are hoping that some part of the American dream still remains, even in a world where the Purge still exists. The film asks the question, 'Is the dream still alive?' Their journey, through intense Purge action, represents a contemplation of this question, which they won't be able to answer until the end of the film – if they survive, of course ..."
Though they're unsure about the Purge as a legal entity, Adela and Juan manage to survive their first Purge Night, only to find that for some, the annual event is far from over. In fact, there's a new faction rising in America who hope that the Purge never ends. In response, Adela and Juan must work together with patriarch Caleb Tucker (Will Patton), his son Dylan (Josh Lucas), and the rest of the Tucker clan to survive a never-ending onslaught of violence in a race to the Mexican border.
The Forever Purge also stars Cassidy Freeman and Leven Rambin as Caleb Tucker's daughter-in-law and daughter, respectively. Behind the camera, DeMonaco returns to script the film, as he has with every installment, this time teaming up with director Everardo Gout (Days of Grace).
Is it really the end?
Since launching a runaway box office success with The Purge in 2013, DeMonaco's franchise has delivered five films in less than 10 years, along with two seasons of a USA Network TV adaptation created and co-written by DeMonaco. That's a lot of material in less than a decade, which might be why in 2018, after the release of The First Purge, DeMonaco said the next installment would be the last.
“I think I’m going to write it. I think it’s a great way to end it all," he told Entertainment Weekly. "We want to end it all, I think, in this one, and I’m very excited. When I came up with the idea and pitched it to everybody, they seemed psyched, and I think it will be a really cool ending, how we take this one home.”
Of course, franchises that keep cranking out box office success tend to last longer than anyone ever expects (we just got a new Saw movie this year, after all — its ninth), so the question remains: Will DeMonaco really end it all here? We won't know until we know, but if The Purge is going out with this installment, it's going out with a bang, as the film promises everything from a new setting to a whole new take on the series rules to a story that tackles issues ranging from domestic terrorism to immigration.