The Fourth of July is a weird time for James DeMonaco.
“It’s become almost like ‘Purge Day’ in my life,” the creator of Universal’s popular action horror franchise jokes over Zoom. “I try to hide a little bit from it because I get overwhelmed, but [the movies] have definitely changed the meaning of the holiday for me.”
“I didn’t want to do another one unless we could flip The Purge upside down.”
Set in a dystopian America where all crime, including murder, is legal one night per year, The Purge is a touchstone reference among horror fans — and, thanks to some clever marketing and well-timed release dates, is closely associated with Fourth of July weekend. So, ever since unleashing The Purge onto unsuspecting audiences in 2013, DeMonaco has spent summer after summer promoting new chapters in his savage satire. You know, fireworks and hotdogs, murder and mayhem.
But as moviegoers flock back to theaters this Independence Day, the first after one of the most politically fraught times in our nation’s recent history, DeMonaco is breaking the Purge mold with The Forever Purge. It’s a sprawling thriller that opens up exciting possibilities for the franchise that could take us far away from the U.S.A. — and maybe give DeMonaco back his holiday weekend — if we get another sequel.
“People are not going to listen to that final siren.”
Credit: universal pictures
“I didn’t want to do [The Forever Purge] unless we could flip The Purge upside down,” DeMonaco explains of the fifth film in the series, directed by Everardo Valerio Gout. “Then, something hit me. Purgers are not people who listen to laws, so why would they ever stop?”
“I’ve always said you can’t contain this; it’s a virus of hatred.”
Viciously expanding on the pulpy patriotism of the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) — a pro-Purge political party we got to know better in The Purge: Election Year (2016) — The Forever Purge focuses on a rogue group of Purgers intent on keeping the country’s lawless night of ultraviolence going year-round. By the film’s terrifying end, they’ve succeeded, and, just as the NFFA loses power, what these aggressors call the “Ever After Purge” takes hold.
“I’ve always said you can’t contain this; it’s a virus of hatred,” DeMonaco explains, referencing Purge Night’s long history of targeting vulnerable groups, including people of color and the poor. “That was where [this idea] started taking off — this idea that you can no longer contain the Purge to one evening, that people are not going to listen to that final siren, that they’re going to keep going.”
(from left) Elijah Hardin (Jeffrey Doornbos) and Adela (Ana de la Reguera) in The Forever Purge, directed by Everardo Valerio Gout.
This apocalyptic “end to America,” as DeMonaco describes it, sends U.S. citizens not so keen on living in Mad Max times fleeing to foreign countries. And, in a not at all subtle nod to the Mexico-U.S. border crisis, The Forever Purge’s final scene sees its surviving heroes actually escape from Texas to Mexico, where the first post-United States “American” baby is born on Mexican soil.
“We’ve always wanted to go international with it.”
But the destruction of America — a country supposedly “reborn” through this night of barbarity — doesn’t mean the Purge is over for fans of the franchise.
“Four months ago, if you asked me if there was going to be a Purge 6, I would be like, ‘No way, it’s over. Purge 5, that was it,'” DeMonaco says. “Then I woke up one day and I had an idea.”
Although The Forever Purge was previously thought to be the last movie in this hellish storyline, DeMonaco says a sixth Purge movie could see the Purge tradition/holiday/horror show spread across the globe. It’s an idea DeMonaco had been workshopping for a Purge TV series, but now seems better suited to the big screen.
“I’ve always said, ‘You can’t contain this.’ It’s like a virus of hatred.”
Credit: universal pictures
“We’ve always wanted to go international with it,” the screenwriter says, adding the script he’s currently working on features the return of fan favorite character Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo).
“American culture spreads throughout the world… In the fictional world of the Purge, the Purge might spread too. So we’ve always wanted to explore that.”