The Forever Purge

Written by Alexander Reams

39/100

Nearly eight years ago, a movie with Ethan Hawke came out. The film was marketed as a home invasion/ horror movie and was lackluster to say the least. Then, every summer for three years straight audiences got another movie in the PCU (Purge Cinematic Universe). I have enjoyed every entry since that inaugural entry, with The First Purge being my favorite entry in the franchise, it felt fresh and full of life, something The Purge: Election Year was sorely missing. Even with Frank Grillo being an absolute beast during the film, it felt like a dead body on Purge night. Now there is another newcomer director to the franchise, Everardo Gout, but there is still old blood behind the camera, producer Jason Blum and writer (and former director) James DeMonaco. Unfortunately unlike the previous Purge film, this mix didn’t work.

Every Purge film has been about one night of crime, you just knew that eventually they had to expand, this film finally does that and depicts the collapse of America and reverses the refugee crisis to have Americans be the refugees. Which leads the film to be a movie that makes white people try to feel bad about themselves and tries to condemn America for their treatment of the refugees. While that discussion is an important one, it’s not what the film is about, it’s how it’s about it. Unfortunately there is no subtlety to this, which takes away any enjoyment of the film.

I’ll just jump straight into what I liked about the film, the action set pieces. Gout brings a different style than the 2 previous directors, DeMonaco and Gerard McMurray (The First Purge). His camera placement and blocking of the scenes reminded me of 1990s action films, particularly Blade and The Fugitive. He shines brightly in the final gunfight with how he places the audience in the fight and I really enjoyed that. Gout employs a frenetic style that is very reminiscent of the Saw franchise, and it makes all of the action scene unwatchable, until the final gunfight, which drops all of that for beautiful wide shots, only cutting when necessary.

Everything leading up to this however is absolute garbage. Every quiet moment was trying way too hard to be politically relevant, especially Josh Lucas’ character. He was a big draw for me to see this film, but his role is a caricature of a typical rich white racist from Texas, and after 10 minutes it got very annoying. The blame lies in DeMonaco, he wrote the screenplay for every Purge film thus far. However even with Election Year, he wasn’t this heavy handed with the dialogue, I legitimately felt like I was being beaten with a sledgehammer with the message he wanted the audience to get. Almost every performance is bad, except Ana de la Reguera, which after her role in Army of the Dead, I knew she was an actor to watch. Here she stands out among a range of mediocre to bad performances and makes the film slightly more watchable. This is easily the worst Purge film so far and hopefully if another is made, it will be much higher in quality than this garbage fire.

The Forever Purge Trailer

The Forever Purge is now available to rent and purchase on major digital platforms.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Spiral

Written by Alexander Reams

94/100

Spiral is the newest entry in the long-running, and presumably exhausted, Saw franchise. In preparation for this film I finally trekked through the franchise and fell into a weird appreciation and borderline love for this series. This newest entry shows the legacy that John Kramer has left while a new copycat continues his work and reigns terror on police. 

Chris Rock as Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks is the latest protagonist of the Saw franchise. This is a significant change of pace and genre from what we are used to seeing Rock in. Not only is he the lead, he also developed this film from the ground up, is an executive producer, and did the story treatment. This is truly his baby and his passion shows in every scene. Sharing the screen with Rock is Samuel L. Jackson as “Marcus Banks”, Zeke’s father, and Max Minghella as Zeke’s partner “William Schenk”. 

This film is a departure from previous entries in style and substance. The direction of the film, from previous director Darren Lynn Bousman, is far less frenetic. Which leads to making the story and traps easier to watch and less visually confusing. The quick edits and shaky cinematography that has been a staple of the Saw franchise is nowhere to be seen. The camera movements are slow and methodical, almost like a voyeur on the investigation taking place. The editing is intentional, only cutting when absolutely necessary, and never too often. 

The gratuitous blood and gore is toned down to make it more effective when it does happen. Instead the film leans more towards scares and disturbing imagery which constantly pushes the film’s atmosphere to more and more grisly places. This film is a welcome breath of fresh air in this 17-year long franchise. Chris Rock gives what may be his greatest performance yet and seeing him, Max Minghella, and Samuel L. Jackson on screen together is a wonderful combination, the screenplay is a cherry on top.

Spiral Trailer

Spiral is now playing in theaters.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter.