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James DeMonaco on the origins of The Purge in The First Purge

04.24.2018

I never would have expected THE PURGE franchise to explode in popularity the way it did, particularly after the first film mostly wasted its intriguing premise, but explode they did, and we're on the verge of a fourth entry in the series which will take us all the way back to the beginning and show of The Purge first began. As we know from the trailer for THE FIRST PURGE, the whole concept was cooked up by a psychologist played by Marisa Tomei. How could you, Aunt May?!

James DeMonacao, who wrote and directed the first three films in the franchise and returned to script THE FIRST PURGE, recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about why Marisa Tomei's character believes that The Purge is a good idea.

She feels that a societal catharsis would be good. 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.

As for why people would even volunteer for this in the first place, James DeMonaco adds that there's cash involved. "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." DeMonaco said. "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." The New Founding Fathers will be testing out The Purge on Staten Island in THE FIRST PURGE, which will star Y'Lan Noel as a local drug lord who decides to fight back against the authorities and Lex Scott Davis as an activist trying to save her brother (Joivan Wade) from a life of crime.

The marketing for THE PURGE series has always carried a political tone, but THE FIRST PURGE has definitely been pushing the Trump angle. "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," DeMonaco added. "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."

The official synopsis for THE FIRST PURGE:

Behind every tradition lies a revolution. Next Independence Day, witness the rise of our country’s 12 hours of annual lawlessness. Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge. To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.

THE FIRST PURGE will hit theaters on July 4, 2018.

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