Originally, the concept was more a means to get to one of Blumhouse’s classic home invasion plots, but as it’s developed and grown writer/director/producer James DeMonaco has redefined the franchise to look more at the socio-political implications: why a government would really do this (clue: it’s not about “unleashing the beast“), what would change around the world in the other 364 days, and how it reflects the current state of America. He’s also built a pretty coherent timeline of shocking events to boot.
From events now in our past through to disturbingly far into the future, here is the best timeline for The Purge that exists. For the most part, the movies have been consistent in dating (Halloween Easter Eggs aside), with most avoiding presenting an actual year and instead placing themselves in the continuity only in relation to other films. That means, while the technology in later installments may seem antiquated (although that could also be a commentary on the backward society), things mostly line up.
The New Founding Fathers of America took office in 2014 in the wake of total economic collapse. The preceding specifics are never detailed but it presumably extends from the 2008 crash. Whatever happened, the United States was thrown into chaos and this new, alternate party rose from outside the traditional two-party system. But, while their victory heralded a new dawn, the NFFA were still faced with age-old problems. America was still in substantial debt, and not increasing taxes to keep the pinched lower classes happy would only increase that.
This was where the idea of removing parts of the population came in. The question was how to do it in a public-pleasing manner. Enter the Purge: a social experiment where all crime is made legal for 12 hours. Envisioned by The Architect (Marisa Tomei), it’s an attempt to get America’s inherent aggression out by extreme violence, although the NFFA sees it as a way to manipulate the lowest (and most expensive) rungs of society into destroying themselves.
The 28th Amendment is ratified in 2016, leading to a proto experimental Purge the next year. By this time, the NFFA needs some control measures to maintain their flimsy totalitarian rule.
The First Purge takes place from 7 pm March 21, 2017, to 7 am the next day, localized entirely on Staten Island. In the build-up, residents are offered $5000 to stay in their home, and further bonuses for engaging in killing.
However, as a sociological experiment, the Purge fails: while some rogue citizens do engage in murder, the majority hole themselves up or party, at most committing petty crime. The NFFA had anticipated this and sent in hired militia to ignite the powder keg, creating the illusion of mass purging and thus labeling the experiment a success. While various citizens – including the film’s hero, Dmitri – are able to save themselves and their loved ones from the attack, the government begins plans to roll it out nationwide, which they do on March 21, 2018.
By the time of The Purge – which is set in the fifth year of the national rollout – the event has become an accepted holiday, with much of the US infrastructure rebuilt to account for it: insurance, security and, yes, plotted murder. Many of the aspects of the first Purge have now become accepted traditions: parties and get-togethers are common among passive participants, those who approve of the holiday put the government-pushed blue flowers outside their houses, and the masks worn initially by the militia are adopted by the most violent of purgers.
Crucially, the class divide has already become clear. In the middle-class suburbs where the Sandins (played by Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady) live, the NFFA’s fake ethics are tolerated and lightly indulged in, with the poor and homeless often the targets. The movie itself shows a group of upper-class purgers trying to break into the Sandins’ house when they take in a vagrant they’d targeted, and later their jealous neighbors attempt to get revenge for the family’s profiteering by way of security sales.
In this same year, a young Charlie Roan is forced to watch her family murdered, starting her life in political opposition to The Purge and NFFA. And here’s where the people start to fight back…
By the next year, the propaganda machine is in overdrive, keen to highlight the repeated positive impact of the Purge. However, not all is as it seems. In The Purge: Anarchy, the NFFA has trucks patrolling the streets and killing citizens, attempting to boost the numbers and bloodlust just as they were doing in 2017. The Purge is not having the expected impact – likely in part to the test numbers being inflated – and so they’re using the night as a cover for mass assassinations.
Alongside this shift, anti-Purge activists are on the rise. A resistance group led by Carmelo Johns (Michael K. Williams) and Dwayne (Edwin Hodge), the homeless man saved by the Sandins in the previous film, are beginning to fight back against the NFFA. They cross paths with Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), a vengeful wannabe-Purger who winds up protecting multiple people trapped outside and eventually spares his potential victim’s life, signaling a turning point.
The Purge TV Show is set between The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year. Unlike the films, the series covers the night of The Purge (season 1) and the intervening time between the annual event (season 2). Each Purge season follows a different group of characters, all of whom seem disconnected at first but whose ties to each other begin to take shape as each respective season goes on. The biggest The Purge connection comes with the appearance of Ethan Hawke’s James Sandin, who returns in the season 2 finale in a flashback scene to the first film. The NFFA still exists, but the group is in the background as the show centers on other characters and delves into the nitty-gritty of life between Purges in America.
By the time the 25th Purge comes around (seen in The Purge: Election Year), the totalitarian regime set up by the NFFA is beginning to crumble. Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) is now a senator and running for President on a major anti-Purge stance. The NFFA, recognizing their weakness, plot to have her kidnapped and sacrificed during their annual Purge service, but Charlie is helped by security chief Leo Barnes.
At the same time, Dwayne (now going by Dante Bishop) plots to use old, secret tunnels under Washington to kill the NFFA in their church: using what’s left by the Old Founding Fathers to kill the new. Leo and Charlie convince him that violence isn’t the way to stop violence, and so he leaves Edwidge Owens, the NFFA candidate, alive to be beaten in the election. Roan’s first act is to repeal the 28th Amendment, stopping the Purge and ending the sordid chapter of American history.
Or does she? The end of Election Year hints that pro-Purge supporters are rioting and worse in reaction to Roan’s victory, suggesting that the beast the NFFA has unleashed now lingers in the minds of many citizens.
Set eight years after the events of The Purge: Election Year, the NFFA have reestablished control over the U.S. government and reinstated The Purge in The Forever Purge. Because of the NFFA’s control and the years they had in power, the country is filled even more with racist hatred and bigotry. There is a lot of tension between pro-purgers and everyone else; even people who don’t like the annual Purge (like Dylan Tucker) believe that each race should stick together. Groups like Purge Purification Force are armed and dangerous in their ideologies — they plan to eradicate anyone they don’t consider American, fueling the supremacist narrative that has gained additional traction over the years.
Here, the night of The Purge is extended and the violence, fueled by the Ever After Purgers, doesn’t end the next morning. Extremists and various groups decide to continue their killing spree for days after, breaking The Purge’s rules for the first time since its inception. Adela and Juan, migrants who arrived from Mexico months before The Purge, must return to the U.S./Mexico border before it closes indefinitely. By the end of The Forever Purge, America is drenched in blood, violence, and chaos. After the NFFA is targeted, they condemn the Ever After Purge and call for martial law. The NFFA is ultimately disbanded (for good this time, it seems) after millions of Americans become refugees in Canada and Mexico in a bid to escape the violence.
With The Purge franchise, the NFFA is never truly gone. While they’re no longer in power at the end of The Forever Purge, they could reform or reemerge as a different group made up of the PPF and other Ever After Purgers.
In the fall of 2021, news broke that The Purge 6 was in the works. James DeMonaco, the series creator who has written all of the films in the Blumhouse-created horror movie franchise and even directed the first three installments, shed some light on the framework of the forthcoming sequel’s events in an interview with The Illuminerdi. He said the series will pick up 10 years after The Forever Purge, in a time when America has been “completely remapped” and “completely tribalized.” It’s easy to see how the events of The Purge 6, which sound like they will showcase a similarly hostile and divided vibe within the United States to the films before it, also parallel real-life issues that have been bubbling to society’s surface for quite some time in recent years. DeMonaco confirms this himself within the aforementioned interview, saying the inspiration for the plot was “born from the sociopolitical climate we’re living in now.”
As of right now, aside from knowing that James DeMonaco will once again be at the helm, The Purge 6 is under wraps. There isn’t an official title or release date for the Purge movie franchise‘s next installment. Even so, there is one nugget of confirmed information for cinephiles to relish in until The Purge 6 hits the big screen. In his interview with The Illuminerdi, DeMonaco confirmed that the movie will feature “the return of Leo [Barnes]” – the Frank Grillo-portrayed character from The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year. Grillo has confirmed this as well while excitedly speaking with The Playlist in September 2021. DeMonaco seems to share the enthusiasm, as he said that a return for Leo Barnes’ character – and working with Grillo again – would be a driving force behind his decision to return to the director’s chair for The Purge 6.
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