Prequel film is released July 4
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The First Purge (out July 4) is a prequel to the previous three Purge movies, set at a time when America’s authoritarian ruling party, the New Founding Fathers, is testing out the idea of a law-free night on Staten Island. Y’Lan Noel plays a local drug lord who decides to fight back against the authorities; Lex Scott Davis is an activist trying to save her brother (Joivan Wade) from a life of crime; and Marisa Tomei is a psychologist who is responsible for the idea of the Purge.
“She feels that a societal catharsis would be good,” says writer James DeMonaco. “She is a psychologist who has created the Purge, and she actually does believe it’s something that society needs. It’s a very angry society. She’s seen a citizenry that is rioting quite often in the country. She actually believes in — it’s a weird thing to say — the purity of what the Purge might do and she wants to try the experiment. She doesn’t see that the government, the NFFA, who’s putting it into effect has a completely different agenda.
Why on earth would the good folks of Staten Island agree to be Purge guinea pigs?
“There’s a monetary component, meaning if you participate, and you stay on the island during the Purge, you will receive a $5,000 stipend,” says DeMonaco, who wrote and directed the first three Purge movies, but this time has ceded the director’s chair to Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands). “So, mostly, poor people stay and rich people leave. But obviously there’s twists and turns, and government manipulation, and all these allusions to the Trump administration.”
Speaking of which, it was presumably no coincidence that the initial teaser for The First Purge dropped at the same time America’s real-life commander-in-chief was making this year’s State of the Union address. Was that DeMonaco’s idea?
“No, I wish it was, man,” he says. “Universal marketing has always — and I give them credit for this — you know, they’re very subversive. The movies are subversive, and they’ve pushed the subversive angle, and they jumped on that, and I think they saw the script was subversive in a way that they could use, and they always push the political content. Is [the film] about Trump? Listen, I think good science fiction puts a mirror up to society. What people respond to with The Purge is that it is reflecting on our times, where many people feel that they’re not being taken care of. So, I think that it definitely reflects what’s happening right now.”
Watch the trailer for The First Purge above and see an exclusive image from the film, below.