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July 11, 2021

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‘Forever Purge’ gets political on southern US border

THE dystopian action-horror “Purge” franchise has previously made stops in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Now it’s time to pull on a pair of cowboy boots and get ready for a little twangy Purge.

“The Forever Purge” is set along the United States-Mexican border, and it’s perhaps the most overtly political of the series, portraying a ragtag group of Americans trying to flee the anarchy and white supremacy of Texas for the safety of Mexico as the annual US bloodlust event turns into an everyday abomination.

The film jettisons its horror roots for an aggressive — some may call it ham-fisted — social critique of modern America. But watching video of real insurrectionists on January 6 try to violently take over the US Capitol makes portions of “The Forever Purge” seem like a documentary.

“We are the real patriots of America,” announce a group of the mask-wearing white supremacists during the latest fictional bloodletting, hoping to exterminate anyone black or brown. “America will be America once again.” There’s no escaping the feeling that “The Forever Purge” is a poison pen letter to Trumpism.

For those just joining creator James DeMonaco’s “Purge” series, here’s how it works: In a near future, the government, led by a nefarious party called the New Founding Fathers of America, allows an annual 12-hour period of lawlessness without recriminations.

Over the course of a single night, rape, murder, robbery and everything else is permitted across the nation as a way to release anger but also to cull from an overpopulated nation and reduce crime.

The last chronological film in the series — 2016’s “The Purge: Election Year” — seemed to end with an outlawing of the purge, but that clearly didn’t last. The New Founding Fathers are back in charge as “The Forever Purge” opens and their annual horror shows have been reinstalled. There’s also a wall established along the southern border.

“It’s starting, y’all,” one main character in a Texas town announces as the purge countdown begins. She is protected by wealth in her ranching compound, but her immigrant employees must huddle for safety in a makeshift shelter.

This time, the annual purge time passes without anyone we care about ending up dead, but then the event doesn’t end. The film cracks open at this point, adding class resentment to the mix. Groups of poor disenfranchised whites across the country begin targeting their white bosses and vowing that the purge won’t stop. “Ever After!” is their war cry.

That makes strange allies of the Tucker ranching family and a pair of newly arrived immigrants from Mexico: Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and her husband Juan (Tenoch Huerta).

Up until then, the Tucker’s son Dylan (Josh Lucas) was flirting with outright white supremacy, not wanting Spanish to be heard in his house and not believing that cowboys could be anything but white Americans. Now, he and his family are being kept alive by the very people he disdained.

Martial law is declared but the Army can’t stop the lawlessness. A potential escape may come from America’s neighbors: Canada and Mexico, who have opened their borders for six hours to any refugees from the madness.

The film directed by Everardo Gout then becomes a quest as the Tuckers — including Dylan Tucker’s pregnant wife — together with Adela and Juan fight their way to El Paso, hunted by masked men demanding purification of the white race.

They are all led to safety in Mexico — and this is a genius move by DeMonaco — by a native American guide and fighter. “This is not your fight,” he is told. “We’ve been fighting this fight for 500 years,” he responds.


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