Scream Horror Magazine


Posted on: July 11th, 2021

The rules of the annual Purge event are simple: Over a 12-hour period, any and all crimes in America, ranging from cold-blooded murder to petty theft to breaking and entering, can be committed without legal recourse. In The Forever Purge – billed as the fifth and final chapter of the popular franchise – there doesn’t seem to be an end to the mayhem.

The film follows two Mexican immigrants, Adela [Ana de la Reguera] and her husband, Juan [Tenoch Huerta], trying to make a better life for themselves in Texas. Juan has been employed as a ranch hand by the Tucker family, including patriarch Caleb [Will Patton], his adult son Dylan [Josh Lucas] and Dylan’s pregnant wife, Cassie [Cassidy Freeman]. But when a masked gang of killers target the Tuckers the morning after the Purge, the two families must join forces if they hope to survive.

Freeman recently spoke with Scream Magazine about her character, how the Forever Purge raises the stakes, the physically taxing shoot and the film’s violence.

SCREAM: This isn’t your first rodeo when it comes to horror. What do you enjoy about the genre?

Horror, to me, feels like a real fantasy. Maybe I do that because I get super-freaked out by horror movies. I am not a horror movie buff. I am not someone who is like, “Oh, the new horror movie came out. I can’t wait to be myself in the dark and watch it.” It started when I did YellowBrickRoad with my brother and our friend Andy. I was a part producer on the movie, and it made me really excited to be doing something from beginning to end. Maybe because I came from theater, there’s something about creating a whole different world in horror. And not all horror is like that. I actually think this movie, The Forever Purge, is quite different. It hits very close to home, and very real, as opposed to a doll coming to life and murdering you. I like going to places that feel fantastical, that feel very out of the norm. What was interesting about this particular movie, The Forever Purge, was it melding that idea of real life and what happens when real life goes real wrong.

What can you tell me about your character, Cassie?

The most obvious physical attribute of her is that she’s nine months pregnant. In my mind, she serves as the high stakes of the situation. She is a physical representation of newness, of new life, and also that what needs to be protected, both the mother and the child. She is married to the rancher’s son, who can be a little hotheaded. She has a really calm and beautiful demeanour about her in conjunction with her husband, who she loves deeply, but can also see when he gets a little hotheaded and mouthy.

I really loved working with Will Patton, who played the patriarch of the family. I think Will is so talented. There was a calm about him that I thought my character had watched for a while. I felt connected to that. Cassie is trying to do what’s right. I think she’s caught in a scary situation that she did not expect, at a very scary time in her life.

Where does Cassie stand on the Purge event?

As I’ve seen in previous Purges, one of the themes I’ve noticed in them is the class separation. Those who can afford it think of this as a nuisance, like an annoying night. “Let’s just get this day over with.” The stakes are lower for them because they do have money to create a bomb shelter or pay for security or have the ammunition and the arms to protect themselves. There’s a level of expectance that this is just what happens, and I don’t know that any one person feels powerful enough to change that. What has been displayed in previous Purges is that people of lesser means, or people who don’t have a community to protect them, feel this a little bit more. For Cassie and this family, she probably wishes this wasn’t happening when she was pregnant. She has this maternal instinct, she has those woman’s instincts of worrying to a certain degree, but also thinking, “Let’s just get this over with” versus being really terrified. When things don’t end after 12 hours, she could crumble in that moment and become a deer in the headlights. What’s cool about Cassie is she doesn’t. She’s not able to fully fight because physically she can’t, but she definitely finds focus and is a very integral part in keeping them on track to finding safety.

All the other Purges take place in a metropolitan city. This isn’t the case for Forever Purge, where it starts off on a Texas ranch. In what way does that add a new dimension to the franchise?

The film moves through space. It starts there and that’s where the proverbial shit hits the fan. I thought about that a lot. In real life, there’s something about being in a city that might feel dangerous. I grew up in a metropolitan area. People talk about street smarts. “Know what road to walk down and what road not to. Know how to carry your keys. Be aware of your surroundings.” People do stick up for you. Less crime happens if everyone is watching. There’s an element of danger in a city because there’s more people, more things can happen and there is anonymity. But there’s also a level of being held accountable and being seen and caught in a city.

Country turns that on its head. You think you are safe, but that’s another representation of the class thing. “If my land is protected enough, and this is mine and you can’t come in…” The truth is, and a common horror line is, “We are so far out, no one can hear you scream.” There’s that fear of being in the country, where if things go wrong and you find yourself not in a place of power, you are actually maybe more in danger and more out of control and more at the whim of whoever is running the show.

How would you describe the violence and mayhem in this film?

The violence in previous Purge films felt like blunt-force trauma, almost like bloodshed for bloodshed. “I need to feel alive. I need to feel whatever it is I am feeling, which is human rage.” There’s not a lot behind it other than, “I am angry, and I have to get it out.” What interests me is the motivation behind it. The violence in this Forever Purge feels very motivated. But the specific story that’s being told in this film feels very motivated emotionally and where we fit in the world and who deserves to live and who deserves to die. It feels more psychological than other types of violence.

Playing a pregnant character thrown into crisis mode, how physically and emotionally demanding was this role?

Quite. It’s so strange to think about because it was right before Covid. It was physically taxing. What was interesting for me, as an actor, is usually I get cast as the badass bitch who can kick everyone’s ass, which I love. One of the reasons this part was attractive to me is that it was a departure of that, to some degree. We were filming out in the California desert and it’s hard to create that feeling of having traveled a long time, being really tired, other than doing it. That’s kind of what we were doing. My character had to spend a lot of her time consistently on the defensive, because I didn’t have the opportunity to go on the offensive. Whereas I’m sure other people in the cast would say differently because they weren’t wearing a pregnancy belly. It was really fun because I used to hide snacks in it, so I was never hungry.

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