Chicanx Murals Have Silent But Important Role in “The Forever Purge”

Lead Photo: Photo by Viridiana Villa.
Photo by Viridiana Villa.
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When Chicano muralist Jesús “CIMI” Alvarado gave Mexican filmmaker Everardo Gout (Mars) a tour around his South El Paso neighborhood — also known as El Segundo Barrio — he never thought the director would reach out to him a year later to ask him to contribute to his new movie.

In The Forever Purge, the fifth installment of the horror franchise, Alvarado was asked to provide paintings that represent the culture and artistry of El Paso — which the film’s characters would pass through. In post-production, Alvarado’s paintings were converted digitally into full murals for the film. As a part of the plot line, the characters use the murals to guide them to safety during the deadly purge.

“I had never done anything like that, so it was a great experience,” Alvarado, 43, told Remezcla during an interview this week. “I’m used to painting murals that people are going to sit and look at. It was different knowing that this work was going to be seen in a movie for one or two seconds.”

Some of the paintings Alvarado created for the film, he said, include “the traditional work that shows the life of El Paso.” In one painting, Alvarado features an accordion player, while another centers on the holiday of Dia de Muertos. Alvarado also created an image of Lucha libre wrestlers.

“We wanted to make sure the artwork was portrayed authentically,” Alvarado tells us. “We wanted people to know this is what El Paso is like.”

Whether people see his work in The Forever Purge, online, or in-person in El Paso, Alvarado wants them to know that his hometown is not only defined by the negative coverage it gets in the mainstream media.

“We get a lot of attention for the bad things, but there are great things that are happening in El Paso,” he said. “There is a lot of talent here. Hopefully, more people will start taking notice.”


The Forever Purge is currently playing at theaters.

Watch the trailer below: