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Writer-Producer James DeMonaco Blends Action And Horror In The Forever Purge - Exclusive Interview

Oscar Wilde once said, "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." When it comes to "The Forever Purge," which is it? Maybe it's a little bit of both, or perhaps writer James DeMonaco is just a little bit psychic. While watching the new fifth entry of the hit sociopolitical horror franchise, one might assume it's purely art imitating life, and that DeMonaco is just absorbing what he sees on the news and using real-world civil unrest as inspiration for each chapter of the "Purge" saga. Well, that's not entirely the case.

There are moments in "The Forever Purge" that may remind you of the many extreme right-wing ideologies and protests that ran rampant in the news during the 2020 election. There are scenes where even the January 6, 2021 capital riot or other violent protests will spring to mind leading you to believe that DeMonaco is simply putting his own fictional spin on real-life occurrences. But the truth is, "The Forever Purge" was written long before the capital riot even occurred. Not only did it wrap production in 2019, but it was even slated for a July 2020 release before the pandemic rattled Hollywood and shut down theaters across the globe.

DeMonaco is the mastermind behind the entire "Purge" franchise. He wrote and directed the first three films and then segued into a writer-producer role for 2018's "The First Purge" as well as both seasons of the "Purge" series on USA, and now "The Forever Purge." During a recent exclusive interview with Looper, he made it clear that he's totally aware of the coincidental yet glaring similarities between his movies and what eventually unfolded in real world. In fact, his phone blew up as the riot went down and now he's starting to think that maybe he is having some sort of premonitions as his movies eerily inch closer to becoming a reality — but in the end, he hopes he's dead wrong. He also chimes in on where he sees the franchise going next and what message he hopes audiences take away from "The Forever Purge."

James DeMonaco hopes his movies are wrong about where America is going

I have to ask; do you have premonitions, or do you ever feel like you're clairvoyant? Watching the movie, I was reminded of the January 2021 Capitol riot. A lot of people might not realize that you wrote this way before that even happened. When things like that unfold in the news, do you ever feel like you're sort of psychic, and these movies are inching toward becoming a reality?

I know, dude. That's why my producers, both of them, Jason [Blum] and Sébastien [K. Lemercier], are like, "You got to stop predicting the future." I don't know. I hope I'm wrong because the one I came up with for "The Purge 6," I hope is not at all, any kind of prediction of where America is going, but I guess I always say the seeds of discontent were so obvious to me in society, that I think I just saw them two and a half years ago: All the discord, the discontent, the anger. And I think I kind of just took the cue that it's out there. It's in the masses. People are angry on both sides of the coin. And yeah, it's scary, dude. When the [January] 6 [riot] happened, I was getting calls from everyone saying, "What the hell?" Like, "Did you know?" And I was like, "No, I didn't, and I wish I was wrong."

A lot of people go to these movies for the entertainment and thrills, but what's something beneath all the action, gore, and violence you want people to notice? Is there a takeaway message or a deeper meaning you hope people walk out of the theater with?

Yeah, dude, it's interesting. I always say we're always trying to smuggle some sociopolitical ideas into the movie, first and foremost, horror, action, sci-fi thrillers, right? All those great things I love in the '70s like "Escape from New York," "Road Warrior," all that stuff. That's what we're trying to do. But then we're trying to, like George Romero did and John Carpenter, and even some of the guys from the '40s and '50s, like John Ford and Anthony Mann, we're trying to get some sociopolitical thoughts in there.

I think they're there for people to grab about income inequality, racial inequality, government treatment of the disenfranchised. But I don't want to be too preachy. So I never really say. I let the people, if they want to take it, it's there for the taking, I think. And if they just want to watch it for the entertainment value, I think they could do that too.

Will The Purge go global?

I was talking to Jason Blum, and he was saying that you're kind of touting this as the last "Purge" movie. Do you think it really is the last one, or is the real-world news the gift that keeps on giving that might inspire you to write a new one?

Two months ago, I woke up with a new idea. I told everybody what it was, and I'm writing it right now. So if the audience wants it, we're ready. And you nailed it, man. It's like, I woke up, there was something in the news that just got into my head, and I kind of started extrapolating on it in my brain. And you're right, the news just keeps fueling it. I wish the world was just a harmonious place where it wasn't giving me new ideas, but it keeps giving.

In the next one, are we going to see The Purge go global? Like, "The World Purge," where the whole world adopts the Purge holiday and rich people — you can have characters inspired by Richard Branson, who are trying to escape to space now. Like, you have to get off the Earth. Do you see it going global?

Branson and going to space. It's actually a great idea. We've tried to go global a couple times, and we actually had meetings on this, on a TV show in Mexico about a Purge in Mexico, and then one in Germany we spoke about. And so there's been thoughts of how do we bring it, because what I like about the conceit traveling, it's a terrible thing to say, is a lot of parts of American culture, as you know, go abroad, right? Rap music, culture, movies, they travel around the globe.

Well, what happens if the very bad parts of American society, like the Purge, travel too, in this fictional universe? And that's what I always wanted to do. Like you said, how do we go global? We haven't gone there yet. My next idea, I think I'm still so fueled by American discord that I'm keeping it centralized to America, but we're definitely thinking globally too. That's why we had those initial TV meetings on that front.