Assassination Nation is not a film for the faint of heart. The film explores many hot-button topics ranging from toxic masculinity and transphobia to American gun worship and social media overload. In many ways, it feels like a Scream Queens rip-off. Way more explicit, though.
Set in the conservative town of Salem, Massachusetts (but filmed in New Orleans), the film centers on high school friends Lily (played by Odessa Young), Bex (played by Hari Nef), Em (played by Abra), and Sarah (played by Suki Waterhouse). The four are strongly feminist, talking regularly about the out-of-touch patriarchy and their repressed, sexually-underwhelming boyfriends.
Meanwhile, a hacker circulates photographs of the town’s anti-gay mayor (played by Cullen Moss) dressed in women’s clothing. Soon after, the high school principal’s (played by Coleman Domingo) phone is hacked and pictures of his underage daughter are sent out, implying that he is a pedophile. Pretty soon, more than half the town is hacked and personal information is leaked for all to see. The whole town loses its collective minds and sets out to find the hacker. A week later, Lily is accused of being the culprit and extreme violence ensues.
Throughout the movie, I alternated back and forth between several lines of thought. Disgust, bewilderment, and, finally, introspection took hold. On one hand, I was disgusted by the gratuitous language and unspeakable violence. On the other hand, beneath all that is a stirring and extremely relevant commentary on the state of our society and culture.
We are a nation beset by division, hate, and violence. Assassination Nation portrays an authentic, even if melodramatic, picture of society’s current struggles. I get what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. For that reason, I’m cutting this film some slack.
This is a difficult movie to watch and by no means for everyone, but totally worth seeing if you can take the brutality and frankness of it all.
I give Assassination Nation three out of five stars.