Movie Review: ASSASSINATION NATION - Selfies, Blood, and Harassment

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Movie Review: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:, edition by Amber255 via

In connection with the widespread digitization of the surrounding reality, modern people are less in need of personal communication and more often interact with each other through an electronic device. The main intermediary for today is a mobile phone. Taking on the role of a secure buffer, the mobile phone has become an integral part, or better said, a continuation of its owner. Always with us, this participant in all aspects of our life activity helps us without hesitation: entertains on a long trip, allows you to contact loved ones at any time, helps you quickly find the information you need, wakes up in the morning, organizes the next day, etc. BUT THE MAIN THING, it helps to express oneself. 

But what we perceive as an assistant and friend for all occasions, in one beautiful moment can turn into the worst enemy who treacherously and without shame tells about all our innermost secrets to the world. Everything that we have ever shared with him will instantly enter the network for the court of the public.

It happened to the heroes of the movie ASSASSINATION NATION, which offers one of the ways that offended female students take revenge on the offenders-hackers, who set up their best friends (mobile phones) against them. Under the feminine manifestos, four friends will begin their bloody revenge on lustful guys who dared to invade their personal lives.

I think a lot of the script came out of my anxieties of what the world is like and how difficult it is for young people to navigate today. -  Sam Levinson


Director Sam Levinson (the son of the famous director Barry Levinson) is not new to cinema, although ASSASSINATION NATION is only his second directorial job in eight years. As in his last film (Another Happy Day), Levinson not only directed the film but was also a screenwriter, so we have an entire piece of authorship.

ASSASSINATION NATION Trailer - Video credit:

The Short Story Of The Movie

Lily (Odessa Young) and three other young girls Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Bex (Hari Nef). and Em (Abra) live in a small town Salem. Selfies, emoji, Snapchat, and sexting - that's what they are good at. Hormones are raging, and girls live in a world of parties, intrigues, discussions of guys and fashion trends. She cheats on her boyfriend sending a sexy selfie to someone in the neighborhood. Everything is not so simple, because it turns out that this is a whole science in the States: choosing the right hashtag and intimate photo. 

When an unknown hacker puts in open access personal photos and correspondence of the mayor of their hometown Salem, it turns out that an ardent supporter of family values loves unconventional entertainment. At the press conference, the disgraced mayor shoots himself a bullet to the forehead, but at this insanity in Salem does not end.

The indefatigable hacker does the same with the director of the local school, and then almost all the inhabitants of the city. This had the effect of an exploding: the inhabitants of the town began to look for the guilty, which resulted in bloodshed.


Movie Review: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:

The Content of The Movie

The city of Salem, Massachusetts, is notorious: it was the city where witch hunt was staged. Yes, the parallels have never been so primitive and simple: ASSASSINATION NATION tells about the same thing, only if the angry crowd had Twitter accounts. The thriller tries to be relevant, timely and even symbolic, but the fact remains: simplicity played harming role that resulted in a simple storyline about women with weapons.

ASSASSINATION NATION begins with a warning that the film is full of the most provocative and resonant topics of our time: discrimination, arms trafficking, harassment to the weak, rape, phobia (hatred, disgust, aggressive behavior towards people who are not correspond to the existing gender expectations and norms in society ”), etc., thereby setting the right mood and course of events.

It is narrated for one of the main characters, Lily, whose voice behind the scenes throughout the film tells new details of what actually happened to Salem. The genres abundance in the film may seem a bit strange because there is literally a bit of everything from each genre.


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Yes, everyone has secrets in their phones, but the ASSASSINATION NATION makes this statement absolute through Lily and her friends. The generation of social networks was shown disgustingly, but it hardly was an idea: the movie is too biased on the side of the girls.

The first half of the film looks like a youth comedy with an endless stream of parties, alcohol and a trendy soundtrack. It fascinated to some degree since the creators quite appropriately used stylistic techniques like split screens. This refers both to the endless dependence on social networks and gadgets and makes the story clear and not very loaded.

The dialogues are also quite natural: the themes discussed by the heroines capture the spirit of the times. In the original version, profanity pours through every word, and it seems that they forgot about censorship when they wrote the script — they all insult each other in the most unpleasant way, jokingly and not, discussing rather provocative topics.

However, the ASSASSINATION NATION at some point goes out of the road, and the script literally crashes. It is not a bloodthirsty outcome and not the artificiality of madness. 


The film about misogyny: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo

Gradually, the atmosphere of unbridled fun fades into the background and is replaced by a tense socially satire about how dangerous the Internet can be and that even the coolest girls in school can become victims of Internet bullying. The theme of cyber-terror has already been raised several times, however, in ASSASSINATION NATION it is played up very worthily and without much pop.

A pleasant surprise was that the film from the easy comedy managed to adequately transform itself into a genre of a serious, full of tension thriller with elements of bloody and stern horror. The scene of the attack on the house shot so well that you start feeling uncomfortable. Well, if to talk about the ultra-bloody scene in the bathroom - it was so skillfully filmed that is above all praises, and after that, you completely forget about the rainbow beginning of the film.

Social context and morality in the film, however, are presented. Moreover, exactly for these aspects, I give such quite high rating. In general, frankly talking, it is teenagers' tape, which I personally liked, but this does not at all become a worthy feature film.


ASSASSINATION NATION review - Photo credit:

The film was not as simple as I thought before watching. Yes, it is terrible. Yes, it is negative. The ASSASSINATION NATION turned out to be a multi-layered American pie. And the first layer is relevant and smart. About a society that puts on a mask of decency, tolerance, but it just leaves the house and under the shadow of the anonymity of the Internet reveals its true face. And if to take away the anonymity from me, from you? This is the unexpectedly serious and urgent question asked by the director Sam Levinson. The second part is the ruthless violence. Violence over the brain of the audience. And third - feminism.

Director Sam Levinson does not tease and does not provoke, and, it seems, is really interested in bringing clear emotions and seemingly obvious, but still hard to take root ideas. The situations and characters in the film are impressively naturalistic, and this, of course, is not an accidental success.

When working with the script, Levinson carefully studied the blogs of teenagers, so he managed to fill the script with genuine emotions. These remaining seams were masked by cool improvisations of the leading actresses. Improvisational dialogues are even more important here than genre style or stylish cinematography.


The film about misogyny: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:

The Personages Of The Movie

It's the story of four friends who were in the center of the whirlpool of cruelty that flooded the town of Salem. These four eighteen-year-old schoolgirls discuss everything that modern teenagers care about in stereotypes: stupid guys, cunnilingus, parties, and other fun. They have a minimal set of features that distinguish the heroines from each other.

Lily (Odessa Young) is able to sympathize with people with whom her views on life differ and sends her sexy selfies to a mysterious admirer, although she is in a relationship with the character Mark (Bill Skarsgard). Becks (Hari Nef) is a mischievous feminist who has experienced epic sex of sneezing duration at a recent party. Em (Abra) - just a black girl, to whom the creators in addition to skin color, decided not to endow with any distinctive features. And finally, Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), which is an absolute emptiness. She is completely devoid of at least some features. Just girl number four. And it is rather strange, because the actress who worked with such stars as James Franco, Jason Mamoa, and Keanu Reeves should have gotten a more prominent role, and here she can call herself a statist number.


The film about youth: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:

And this company of young girls gets into trouble when Lily is accused of being the hacker who stole and merged all the personal data of the inhabitants of the town into the network. This massive drain provoked a wave of violence, and when it reached its peak, they found a guilty one in the person of the main character.

If at the beginning of the film, the girls go through the world without defined standards, they love the world of crazy youth and drunken parties, free sex, and a set of hundreds of similar selfies in the smartphone gallery, then at the end, they seem almost like horsemen of apocalyptic feminism, frightening the patriarchal society, that they are capable of refusing the conservative foundations and fight the inevitability.

The Cast Of Assassination Nation Talks Online Bullying And Self Esteem - Video credit:

The Technical Side Of The Movie

Director Sam Levinson spent a lot of time trying to find a balance so that the dismemberment was realistic, and at the same time grotesque enough to thin out the tension. In sum, all this provided the shocking finale: action, stylish shots, smashed heads, red blood, and tension.

In addition, the author clearly experiences the viewer's patience with all sorts of technical and visual things, including rapid, split screen, neon, shaking camera, ragged montage, shooting from acute angles, audiovisual counterpoint, and capturing a computer screen.

As for the already mentioned stylistic, which inevitably takes over the content, then here, in my opinion, not everything worked out smoothly. The film is simply not sustained in rhythm and superfluous in expressive means. On the screen, for a long time nothing can happen, and suddenly the picture explodes with a kaleidoscope of movements, faces, colors accompanied by loud sounds, so it is not possible to perceive all the incoming information. Then the action slows down so much that it almost drives you to sleep.

But all this fits perfectly with the music, that is not just a background here, but it turns on just at the flick of the heroine’s fingers and complements events with texts.


The film about youth: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:

The Collective Work Of The Actors

In ASSASSINATION NATION, there is not enough space for acting. The young heroines were played by promising young actresses: Odessa Young, Abra, Suki Waterhouse, and Hari Nef. And if we talk about the main characters, one of them is not remembered at all, and the rest look more like patterns than real people. 

And it’s not necessary to speak about minor characters; even Bill Skarsgard here performs exclusively predictable actions. But still, the coarseness of the performance does not seem to be a manifestation of a lack of talent; it is simply necessary here.

Some other actor: Colman DomingoJoel McHaleMaude Apatow, and Bella Thorne appeared in a film too.


Odessa Young in ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:

On The Final Note 

What is the conclusion? The satire on modern society maximum charged by the mad energy perfectly reflects the spirit of our time, saturated with hashtags. You should not take the idea too seriously and try to delve into the realism of some scenes; the idea is especially exaggerated to the point of absurdity in trying to reach the viewer about the dangers of social networks and thoughtless decisions.

The ASSASSINATION NATION is an angry and hilarious satire on modern American society, obsessed with, on the one hand, privacy protection, and on the other - the exposure of all sorts of (imaginary or real) violators of public morality.

Sam Levinson does not give a topic for reflection, he just throws all vulgarity right in the face, raising it to an absolute and making so that even the naked bodies of young heroines look not like sexuality, but a reminder of the only values of our society.

At first glance, the ASSASSINATION NATION presents very simple truths: there is no anonymity on the Internet; everyone hides something from their relatives; the herd instinct is very dangerous. But it seems that the author did not try to teach something; he simply puts a crooked mirror in front of society, reminding of how people easily break into cruelty and always look for someone who is to blame for their own troubles.


50 best Movies Of 2018: ASSASSINATION NATION - Photo credit:

I will not recommend this movie to anyone. First, it is a perfect blend of teenage sexuality and ultra-violence with liters of spilled blood - frankly, not everyone will like this cocktail. Decide you. 

One of the more interesting films of the year with a pro-feminist message that's as timely as it is important.


My rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 73/100
Metacritic: 56/100
Critics average: 5.8/10
IMDb: 6.8/10




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