WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The First Purge, in theaters now.
No one expected The Purge to become what it is today, a low-budget dystopian horror franchise that's already earned nearly $320 million and expanded its bloody footprint into television. It began in 2013 with a small-scale movie that chronicled one family's struggle to survive the annual Purge in which all crime is legal for 12 hours. While the sequels Anarchy and Election Year followed the story of Frank Grillo's Leo Barnes as he evolved from broken man to lethal protector, the latest installment in the series explores the origins of the Purge movement.
As we travel back to the night of the social experiment that launched the United States' annual bloodbath, we see there's a lot of story left to tell. The core concept of the franchise, examining human behavior when there's no consequences for barbaric behavior, is rife with storytelling possibilities. As The First Purge comes to a close, it sets up yet another sequel -- and it's one that certainly would be fascinating to watch unfold.
The circumstance surrounding The First Purge are not exactly what audiences anticipated. The Purge begins as a social experiment, far from being a nationwide event depicted in the previous films. For the time being, the governing New Founding Fathers of America is testing testing the latest means to make the United States great again: the First Purge. The experiment is meant to take place only on Staten Island, where residents and purgers will be monitored, and the data analyzed to determine whether its success can be replicated on a larger scale.
Citizens try to survive the night; gangsters -- the "bad" guys of the world -- turn into heroes; and the people you'd never expect turn into the bad guys. Thanks to a push from the NFFA's mercenaries, the political party achieves the results it wanted: blood in the streets of Staten Island. The First Purge ends with absolute carnage, and while some of the heroes make it out of alive, their real fight has only just begun. The final shot of the film is of the American flag at half-staff, signalling this is only the beginning of the fall of the country.
But a mid-credits scene depicts the NFFA's chief of staff, Arlo Sabian, holding a press conference in which he confirms the social experiment was a rousing success, and that the president as well as his NFFA cabinet are considering expanding the Purge nationwide as early as the following year.
That means if The First Purge is a success, we could be looking at a sequel depicting the results of the first country-wide Purge. This film may be titled The First Purge, but it would be better defined as something like Zero Year. The first real Purge is coming next, and we have no doubt that seeing the citizens of the entire country declare war on each other would make for a fascinating -- and equally frightening -- film.
Directed by Gerard McMurray from a script by series creator James DeMonaco, The First Purge stars Y’Lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Luna Lauren Velez, Kristen Solis and Marisa Tomei. The film is in theaters now.