The Purge franchise has never been shy about political allegory, but with each new chapter, franchise creator James DeMonaco turns up the heat a little bit, digging even deeper into the social commentary and metaphorical mythology. That trend looks like it’s going to stand for the upcoming fourth film in the franchise, titled The Purge: The Island, which is otherwise rather a diversion from The Purge movies to date.
Most notably, DeMonaco is sitting out director duties this time, handing over the reins to Sundance breakout Gerard McCurdy, whose feature debut Burning Sands earned a Grand Jury nomination at this year’s fest. But The Island will also travel back in the timeline as the franchise’s first prequel, and in an interview with Vulture, DeMonaco shared some fascinating new details about what to expect from the trip down legally-sanctioned murder memory lane.
The film will take us to the first ever Purge — an experimental test on Staten Island. “It takes place on Staten Island which is cool — the first experimental Purge. Next July 4, it’ll be coming,” said DeMonaco. A concept that opens up all kinds of possibilities for the writers, both on a narrative level and as a platform for social commentary. Unlike the characters we’ve met in the Purge universe so far, these folks won’t be used to the annual bout of violence and some of them won’t even believe it’s a threat.
‘I was wondering how you get people to stay for the first Purge, and what they do is they start monetizing it. People from Staten Island can easily go to Brooklyn for the evening, so what they do is start promising very decent sums of money for the very poor people in the neighborhood. It becomes a monetization of murder and violence, incentivizing killing and keeping people around for them to be victims. So you see the inception of how grotesque the idea of the Purge is, the manipulation upon the society. That’s where it becomes, sadly, I think, very topical right now with the current administration — and also terrifying, because, as you said, no one’s prepared for what’s about to happen. In fact, some people don’t think anything’s going to happen and then there’s this great twist [regarding] how they manipulate the evening.”
DeMonaco also noted that he thinks The Island will be the mosttopical of the films yet — no mean feat for a horror franchise that released an entry called Election Year during election year.
“It really is a creepy reflection of what’s happening right now. The bad serendipity is something I think people will be intrigued [by], to say the least, and scared and saddened by.”
But it’s not all a bummer; he also thinks it will be the most crowd-pleasing entry yet.
“It’s so kick ass in its third act. What’s fun, too, is there’s an anti-hero. More than the previous films, there’s a singular hero in this movie. This is one man’s journey, William, an anti-hero inspired by Eastwood in Unforgiven, so it’s this very cool, modern, kind of badass who redeems himself through the story.”
Finally, DeMonaco revealed the film starts shooting later this month in about two weeks time.