By now, audiences know the drill. On the annual Purge night, the government has legalised all felonies, including murder, over a 12-hour period. The rationale is this twisted event would alleviate any pent-up anger or aggravation and thus reduce the yearly crime rate and boost the economy. But in The Forever Purge – advertised as the fifth and final chapter in the movie franchise – rules will be broken.
Directed by Everardo Gout, with a script by franchise creator James DeMonaco, The Forever Purge – released in theatres on July 2 – follows Mexican immigrants Adela [Ana de la Reguera] and Juan [Tenoch Huerta] as they flee from a cartel. The two find a safe haven in Texas, where Adela works in a poultry factory and Juan is employed as a cowboy by the Tucker family. When a group of marauders decide to continue the violent Purge beyond the designated timeframe, Juan, Adela and the Tuckers must band together in order to survive.
Gout recently spoke with Scream Magazine about The Forever Purge’s social commentary, the importance of representation, murderous sequences and whether this is truly the final Purge movie.
Scream: How did you become involved with this project?
I got a call to read a treatment. They told me this is going to be the last of the movie franchise. “We are really excited about you. Would you want to read it?” I read it and I felt compelled to tell the story. We took it from there. I met with James. He struck me as an amazing, very intelligent man. We hit it off amazingly and he was an amazing collaborator. Then, I started pitching all of my Mexican ideas to make it the most original and the most grounded and the most authentic as possible. We started putting all of that in the script, and we got an amazing script. That was it in the nutshell.
These movies always comment on today’s real-world political and social climate. What does this one say about those situations?
Since this was the last chapter, it had to do with the extremes, when the purge becomes a virus. Now we know what a virus is like. It’s very meaningful because we kept talking about viruses throughout the writing process. It was before the pandemic, but that was the feeling, that feeling that you have this urge for violence, and it grows inside of you and spreads. What is a man capable of doing under such extreme circumstances? It was about James’ reaction to the second amendment and the baring of arms in America. He had really strong points of view. I think he felt, as the franchise advanced, it lost some of his power and became more Hollywood. He wanted to make sure this one was right. I connected to that and understood the challenge.
Considering what was going on in the world while you were filming… We had the election and so many social injustices… How much was that in the back of your mind?
It’s strange. I always say Universal and Blumhouse hired me to do a movie and I ended up doing a documentary. It is scary. We were done with principal photography more than a year ago. All the turmoil came into play as we were editing and doing the post-production. But it’s the ever-changing Purge. It depends on the news, and you are going to read the movie in a different way. It’s still super-entertaining. It’s still a beautiful rush ride. It doesn’t stop.
When does this instalment take place? And what are the set of circumstances that are unfolding?
The last movie was The First Purge and this movie is after the previous movie. It’s going back chronologically in time. The New Founding Fathers of America is back in power, and America is economically striving, but at the same time with a lot of internal issues still going on. I tend to think about it’s a world where Trump would have won his third election by changing the Constitution. That’s the setup.
Introduce us to the lead characters…
I love that the protagonists, for once, are Latinos. There is not one clear protagonist, although two out of the three mains are Mexican. It’s very refreshing to see the point of view of the normal Mexican, who is striving for a better world from America. He’s willing to pay his taxes and abide by laws and do it right and do all the work that sometimes American people are not willing to do. It’s refreshing to see both beautiful human beings in love, try to strive for a better world, not only for them, but their community.
We don’t often see a pregnant woman in these types of movies. In what ways did that raise the stakes?
It makes it very personal for everybody and very human. I love that. Also, with James, he wanted some sort of hope at the end of the journey, so that it’s not all bleak and dark. That’s not the message of the movie. It shows you darkness, but it shows you a path of light.
How did the film taking place in a remote setting like a ranch add a new dimension to this franchise?
That’s what I love, that the challenge was paramount. That it was in daylight, and it was in rural America, and it was with ranchers. That to me felt like it was a movie on its own. I wanted to do the final chapter and it was so completely different than the rest, but it stands alone. That’s what is exciting for me, and I believe for the audiences. It’s going to be absolutely mind-blowing.
It feels like anything can happen when your location is more isolated as opposed to being in a metropolitan city. Is that the vibe you were going for?
It does, but it’s also a journey movie. There’s a lot of traveling. You really feel the collapse of the United States. It’s a national event. You really feel that for the first time instead of seeing this only takes place in New York or DC. It’s like, “Oh, shit. America is on fire.” The scope of this movie is like nothing you’ve seen in the franchise.
What was your approach to the gore, violence and mayhem in this film? How does it compare to previous chapters?
It’s right at the perfect level for audiences of the Purge. It has enough elements for people to be at the edge of their seat and filled with thrills. But I am not an overall, extra-gory person. I think it’s the right level. I think this time might be scarier because it’s deeper, more humane and more raw. You can feel the fear on a different level.
One of the fun aspects of this franchise is the masks. Can you tease what we might see?
These masks are superb. They are a little bit more down to whatever the people are trying to say about where they come from. What would a blue-collar guy use as a mask? What would a rancher use as a mask? It has to do with a lot of the elements they have in their own culture.
What were some of the challenges of shooting on location in San Diego? You weren’t on a soundstage for most of this production.
I love filming on location. I find it very compelling. The challenges of shooting on location, because you can’t move the walls, because you are constrained, you sometimes have less time… Those are things that sometimes help you with the narrative. Obviously, there are some very emotional scenes, and you try to approach it as if it was a soundstage. I believe places also tell a story.
James has said this is the last Purge movie. What kind of discussions did you have with James about it?
He was adamant about this being the last one. That was very exciting for me. I am not naïve. I know if it works like we plan, it’s not going to be the end. But he was like, “I need to do the final one. If the franchise exists on TV, great. As a feature, I think I have to close the chapter.” I’m sure, by now, he has other ideas. The [audience test scores] the movie so far is spectacular, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t.
Interview by Bryan Cairns