First Purge director Gerard McMurray decided to make a science-fiction/horror prequel The First Purge which will be showing in theaters on July 4, 2018. His aim was to make a scary action film that would entertain audiences the world over.
“Audiences want to have a good time and still be in the world of the Purge, and have fun and it not be a dreary thing,” said director Gerard McMurray, but the African-American filmmaker had another objective too. This could be a chance for me to ask, what the Purge would look like, from the perspective of a black man’”, McMurray recalls.
In this fourth entry in the franchise, McMurray investigates what the purge would look like from a black man’s perspective with a series detailing the violent carnage which could come alive if crimes were legalized one night per year. This prequel is concerned with the initial, experimental version of the Purge on Staten Island.
We learn that the idea of an extended period of lawlessness is masterminded by a scientist, played by Marisa Tomei, who is under the impression that society would be much safer and better if citizens were once in a while able to “purge” themselves of their anger and violent urges.
Tomei’s character wants the best for everyone, but the plan is taken over by America’s ruling party at the time. They call themselves the New Founding Fathers of America. They’re using the Purge to weaken the population of lower class, working people. Most of the people in that class are black and brown.
James DeMonaco, writer of all the purge movies and director of three, says:
“I’m not afraid to deal with race and race issues. That’s just who I am as a person, and I don’t run from it, so I wanted to push that. It wasn’t heavy-handed. It was more like, we’re making this movie, and we’re saying something on a different level, and if people pick it up, it’s great.
He goes on to explain a little more about the events that take place in the film.
“They allow the Staten Island citizens to vote on the Purge. They vote yes because if you participate, and you stay on the island during the Purge, you will receive a $5,000 stipend. So mostly poor people stay, and rich people leave, but the government has its own agenda.”
The previous movies touched on the same ideas. In the initial 2013 Purge film, a young black man trigger the plot when he hides from a group of white purgers. The Purge: Anarchy, The Purge: Election Year are no different.
“Over the years, we kept trying to go further with the idea of race, race wars in America, race in America, class war. Each one, we were pushing the envelope a little more. By [The First Purge] we thought, ‘Let’s go all-in here.’”
McMurray attended USC film school, and became friends with Ryan Coogler and then went on to help produce Black Panther.
The First Purge includes a crime lord, a community activist, and the psychopathic Skeletor. McMurray loves horror, and based him a bit on Freddy Krueger.
On if he will return to direct another,
“That’s not my call,” he says. “I’m just happy making this movie.” But he agrees that, in these turbulent times, it is disconcerting to think about what could happen in the next few months that might inspire or influence another entry in the series.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo