American Nightmare 4 on Netflix: a look back at the different inspirations of the film

Like its predecessors, “American Nightmare 4: The Origins” is based on a concept evoking certain masters of genre cinema, starting with John Carpenter. But director Gerard McMurray also wanted to take this prequel to other atmospheres.

American Nightmare 4 : the first purge

In 2013, James DeMonaco inaugurated with the home invasion American Nightmare a franchise based on a simple concept. One night a year in the United States, the government allows all crimes. For twelve hours, citizens have the opportunity to give in to all types of impulses, including murderous, without the authorities being able to intervene.

After having opted for a closed door to set up his universe, the director and screenwriter takes the saga in the street with the second opus, while the third takes place in the middle of an election period. For American Nightmare 4: The OriginsJames DeMonaco signs the script once again but leaves the directing to Gerard McMurray (Burning Sands).

American Nightmare 4: The Origins
Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) – American Nightmare 4: The Origins © Universal Pictures

In this prequel, the political party of the New Founding Fathers of America decides to launch the first purge on Staten Island. Their goal, at least on the surface, is to drastically lower the crime rate for the rest of the year. A few hours before the start of hostilities, the inhabitants of the island are preparing. Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), a drug dealer who controls traffic on the spot, secures his merchandise and prepares his men for a hectic night.

In line with several references

Feared in his neighborhood, the guy will do everything to protect him during twelve hours of chaos, discovering the real plot behind this “experiment”. While the island is invaded by killers come to attack a precarious population, the residents will unite and face it. Innocent people will have no choice but to take up arms, starting with Nya (Lex Scott Davis) and her younger brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade). Steve Harris and Luna Lauren Velez lend their features to fellow stormed Staten Islanders, while Marisa Tomei plays the creator of the Purge.

Like its predecessors, American Nightmare 4 has similarities with some feature films by Walter Hill and John Carpenter, influences claimed by James DeMonaco. The latter had also signed the script for the remake ofAssault directed by Jean-François Richet, Assault on the central 13. In this fourth part, the characters are also attacked from all sides by over-trained and armed commandos. As in New York 1997, they find themselves trapped on an island. Finally, as in The warriors of the night, an atmosphere of anarchy reigns over the film.

American Nightmare 4: The Origins
American Nightmare 4: The Origins © Universal Pictures

Of Boyz’n the Hood at Candyman

For his second feature film, Gerard McMurray is also inspired by cult works that marked his youth. Evoking his discussions with producers on the site, the director says:

I explained to them my vision of the film, a tribute to neighborhood movies from the 90s. I was a teenager in the 90s, so films like Do the Right Thing, Boyz’n the Hood, Menace II Society, New Jack City or The King of New York weighed heavily on my staging choices and overall tone.

But a big fan of horror, the filmmaker also draws on classics of the genre. The character of Skeletor, a psychopath ready to make a massacre played by Rotimi Paul, notably makes reference to two essential figures. Asked by SlashFilm, Gerard McMurray says:

My father often took me to the movies. We saw a lot of Freddy, Jason. In my movie, Skeletor is my Freddy Krueger. I have always loved horror. (…) (And) Candyman, certainly. Candyman is a legend. Skeletor is a neighborhood guy. This is what makes them different.

Beyond cinema, the director also ensures having fed on current events for American Nightmare 4. Allusions to Donald Trump and his administration are, for example, slipped into the film. Shortly before filming began on August 12, 2017, a car-ramming attack on protesters took place in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring more than thirty. An event that would have convinced Gerard McMurray to accentuate the political scope of this prequel.

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