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Edited by Robert Beach
Edited by Robert Beach
This weekend, The Purge enjoyed its third major success with Election Year, the latest film in the shockingly successful franchise. The series, based around a dark future in which all crime is made legal for one night out of the year, first emerged onto the scene in 2013 to mostly tepid, yet lucrative responses. The first films was a bog-standard slasher film with no thrills or surprises and a disappointingly static location and palette. Additionally, it was made worse by the complete disinterest the movie seemed to have in its own politics.
Then the great The Purge: Anarchy hit in 2014, an action thriller set against the slasher-apocalypse Purge Night that served as a walking tour of cool ideas and violent action. This latest installment adds a judicious helping of politics to the film’s central set-up, emphasizing the destructive price paid by the lower classes and minorities for the Purge and the way this night epitomizes predatory capitalism and class warfare. After all that and three major box office hits, I have to ask: what’s next for The Purge? Caution: spoilers to follow.
As I said, this article will contain spoilers and the biggest one is right here: at the end of The Purge: Election Year, the heroic lady senator is elected President in a landslide and sets about dismantling the Purge. It’s a big happy ending that would seem to spell the end of the franchise, though the news does mention Purge supporters reacting violently to her election.
While it wouldn’t encapsulate the same helpless isolation of the previous films, it would be interesting if the next movie in the series focused on illegal Purges carried out by supporters or even state-level attempts at reinstituting the Purge.
At this point in the series, you’re either on board with The Purge’s hyper-violent alternate reality or you’re not. It would be believable the Purgers still try to engage in their holiday regardless of government support.
This one seems a bit less likely, though I still think there’d be a lot of fun to be had with it (like in the wake of how insane foreign politics have been getting in recent years). A big plot point of The Purge: Election Year is the idea of murder tourism with young adults from across the world coming to America for only one night to celebrate the Purge.
It’s a crazy notion, but that’s also exactly the high-concept world development the Purge films have thrived on, zeroing in on the many wrinkles and communities that would form out of the Purge Night activities. The tourists are even afforded the extra mile of dressing up in gaudy, America-themed costumes like some brilliantly twisted take on Carnival or Mardi Gras.
Still, I think it could survive that. Ditching the stars and stripes aesthetic for a Purge Hooligan set-up or maybe a terrifying South African version of the Purge night could be a refreshing change of visual and afford the films more ways to flex their increasingly bold political muscles.
This one seems the most unlikely, but it’d still be interesting to see if they went this route. We know that in Election Year the Purge has been going on for 20 years, initiated 6 years after the New Founding Fathers took office. That means that there’s about a decade or more of Purge stories yet to be told within the context of this universe, which is a lot of fertile ground to explore.
Looking back on the first Purges could make for a chilling exploration of the way people became this hyper-violent community we’ve come to know in the later films. It could also explore the outside manipulation from the New Founding Fathers or their corporate backers to empower the Purge event.
The biggest drawback of this approach would be that you couldn’t bring back Frank Grillo for a third film, which would be a shame, but I think the movies could survive. It would be fascinating to see how the Founders decided the Purge would even work or managed to sell the electorate on the idea. The chance to delve into the way the Founders perfected the Purge over multiple iterations and the early challenges it faced could make for a great thriller.
This is the other possibility emerging out of the civil unrest reported at the end of Election Year. Given the violent nature of the Purge’s supporters and its political backers still alive, there’s a strong possibility that they might actively rebel against the new President’s imposed order to dismantle the Purge and try to form their own nation.
While I’m not sure I’d want to see a full-on war movie between Purgers and the rest of sane America, given the Senator won both the Electoral College and the popular vote, you could do something interesting with a newly divided nation in a more literal sense.
Rather than get bogged down in war, jump forward in time till after any hostilities are over and the current solution is splitting into two states with America split between the pro-Purge nation and the anti-Purge nation. You could even tie this idea to the whole question of international support for the Purge with outside powers willing to lend legitimacy to the pro-Purge nation out of sympathy or the like.
Honestly, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a talk of Purge spin-offs yet. The franchise’s core premise is so wide reaching and ingenious it enabled dozens of possible stories that just wouldn’t fit in the basic action thriller set-up that the films have come to inhabit. Stories set before and after the Purge focusing on different mid-Purge crimes could be fleshed out to whole films in and of themselves; it would allow the films to start answering some major questions about this universe.
For instance, if thieves steal cars during the Purge, are the cars now legally the thieves? Simple stuff like that could make the universe a lot more developed, which is always a strength and would allow the filmmakers to explore some additional genres for wider appeal.
A Purge film revolving around a high-stakes heist, foreign invasion, high-speed racing, organ theft, insider trading, or dozens of other possibilities could be a whole new ball game for this series. This set-up could even facilitate a tie-in TV show, which would be a major shake-up that would help cement the Purge as the new franchise king of the 2010s.