Horror franchises have made an incredible impact on how producers approach new ideas. While they faced a bit of pretentious disapproval in the past, the last twenty years have proved their ability to become profitable. Paranormal Activity reignited found footage ten years after The Blair Witch Project came out. There became a trend of movies costing no more than a couple million dollars and bank on opening weekend box office. While there were a couple that were genuinely good, most of them played on the gimmicks and pissed audiences off. The worst ones had endings that were just abrupt and sometimes advised audiences to log onto a website for information.
At the same time, companies like Blumhouse discovered a formula where traditional narratives could also be made on that same budget, guaranteeing profits without the high risk. Actors like Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne were partaking in movies like Insidious, accepting payment based on the backend which ended up earning them millions. James Wan became a horror icon with his directing styles, but producers loved that he knew how to create big movies at a low cost. Films like Insidious and Saw were both Wan films, eventually leading to huge franchises that refuse to end as people keep paying for tickets.
Ethan Hawke is one of the most well-respected actors in Hollywood, making his name in films like Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy and Dead Poets Society. Eventually, he earned several high-profile awards for his work, but has come to embrace the horror genre by starring in films like Sinister and The Purge.
In 2013, The Purge felt like a fresh concept: for 12 years, once a year, all crime is legal. Hawke played a character who profited off the Purge by his security system business. The first film played into the home invasion sub-genre, but the fans wanted to know what was going on outside. The Purge was a huge financial success, but the negative feedback was impossible to ignore. That criticism was acknowledged with each sequel as the franchise took the action to the streets and explored various economic and social themes.
With the latest film, THE FOREVER PURGE, the filmmakers decided to focus on racial division, no doubt influenced by our then president when this was filming. A migrant couple moves to Texas to escape the drug cartel in Mexico and start a new life that initially promises to be safer. They survive their first purge by hiding out, but an organization has formed to put an end to the 12-hour limit and make this event never end.
The film is a mixed bag of social commentary, but doesn’t hold up as one of the most memorable in the series. Our heroes are fun to root for, but the villains at times feel like SNL parodies. The biggest issue in THE FOREVER PURGE is the tone. It deals with some serious themes, but some of the over-the-top violence takes you out of the story. It doesn’t feel like it knows if it wants you to laugh and cheer or simply just be mortified. The Blu-ray release also feels a bit muddled. There are brief featurettes on the costumes and behind the scenes, but nothing that will make you look at the movie any differently. The video presentation works when we watch the Purge going on during the daytime, but night sequences are another story. The most notable sequence is around the one-hour, three-minute mark as characters are running through foggy streets but there’s so much pixelation that you would think you were watching a bootleg. This is made up for with the disc’s Dolby Atmos track. THE FOREVER PURGE comes alive here as motorcycles drive through the rear speakers and explosions give the movie a good boost in excitement.
THE FOREVER PURGE is not the best in the franchise, but it passes the time and the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos track makes it a little more fun. THE FOREVER PURGE is yours to own now on Digital, and is now available on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.