If you’re a fan of horror films, you know the name James DeMonaco. He’s the writer, director, and overall creative mastermind behind “The Purge” franchise. And over the past decade or so, the filmmaker has focused on his massively popular thriller franchise. However, his new film, “This is the Night,” is something completely different, but it also might be his most personal to date. And on this episode of The Playlist Podcast, DeMonaco joins the show to go deep about his new film, as well as the future of “The Purge.”
Unlike the films you probably know him best for, DeMonaco’s “This is the Night,” produced once again by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, is a coming-of-age film that simultaneously presents a lovely story about a family going through some serious growth over the course of one night but it’s also a love letter to cinema, the theater-going experience, and just how powerful watching a film in a crowd can be.
“People don’t expect this at all from ‘The Purge’ guy, in any way, shape, or form,” said DeMonaco. “I think the studio was really thrown by it too…I think they were expecting another horror thing.”
He added, “There was one cut where Jason [Blum] was like, ‘The Purge is sneaking in…let’s take that back, we don’t need it.’ And he was right, he was absolutely right. [Laughs]”
Ultimately, “This is the Night,” as mentioned, is all about the joy of cinema and watching films on the big screen. And this love of film is what served as the genesis for the new feature.
“My religion in life has been cinema. It saved me from other paths that I could have potentially gone down,” he explained. “I’ve always wanted to pay homage to what saved me and gave me a path in life to follow and something to love deeply, an obsessive love.”
And perhaps the most surprising aspect of “This is the Night” is how the entire plot sorta revolves around the theatrical release of “Rocky III” in the summer of 1982, as Staten Island buzzes with excitement as Sylvester Stallone’s long-awaited film finally arrives. DeMonaco fondly remembers that his “ultimate cinematic experience” was “Rocky III,” as he has distinct memories of waiting in line for tickets, sitting in a packed theater, and seeing everyone react to Sylvester Stallone’s boxing sequel.
But you didn’t expect us to interview DeMonaco and not talk about “The Purge,” right? And lately, for a film series that was supposed to wrap up with this year’s “The Forever Purge,” there’s a lot of discussion about a new sequel. (Hell, Frank Grillo has already confirmed it.) Though there’s a new ‘Purge’ film on the horizon, DeMonaco wants fans to know that he did fully intend on ending the franchise this year. In fact, he also intended to end the film years ago. He just keeps getting ideas.
“I intended [‘Election Year’] to be the end. [Laughs] Then I had the idea for [‘The First Purge’] to show the seed of it all,” he explained. “Then, I swear, I should be struck down, [‘Forever Purge’] was intended to be the end. It was supposed to be the end of America, as we know it, and we’re going to restart America in the future.”
DeMonaco continued, “Then, truly, what happened was I woke up one day in the middle of the tumultuous, socio-political landscape that we now live in—even more accentuated during COVID—and I woke up with the idea ”
So what can fans expect with “The Purge 6?” The filmmaker shared the status of the film and how the franchise is moving ahead with a new setting and story.
“It is written,” DeMonaco revealed. “It is the return of Frank Grillo—the Leo character comes back. It’s set about 10 years after ‘The Forever Purge.’ We open [the film] with a new America. America has been re-mapped, I would say, along very strong, unsubtle tribal lines. [Laughs] So, the map of America has completely changed and we’ve become quite tribal. I think it’s an interesting place to start.”
He added, “It does feel like we might be able to keep going. When I thought [‘The Forever Purge’] was the end, now oddly, at the end of writing [‘The Purge 6’], I don’t feel like it’s over.”
While we anxiously await “The Purge 6,” everyone can check out “This is the Night” in select theaters this weekend and on VOD next week. You can hear our full discussion, where we go much deeper into “This is the Night,” as well as the politics of “The Purge,” below:
As always, The Playlist Podcast is part of The Playlist Podcast Network—which includes Be Reel, Deep Focus, The Fourth Wall, and more—and can be heard on iTunes, AnchorFM, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and now on Spotify. You can stream the podcast via the AnchorFM embed below or up top to listen on this page. Follow us on iTunes, and you’ll get this podcast as well as our other shows regularly. Be sure to subscribe and drop us a comment or a rating, as we appreciate it. Thank you for listening.