Ones We Missed: Assassination Nation (2018) Reviewed

We may have missed this on release week, but here's our review anyways. 

The world is on fire.  All it takes for anyone to see this is to flip on the news or spend five minutes on social media.  Every day, it seems like something even more outrageous and crazy happens somewhere in the world, or to be more accurate, happens in America.  

The last couple years have given us numerous films that are reflective of the crazy times we've been living in.  Films like Get Out, Sorry To Bother You, BlackKklansman and Blindspotting have all provided some social commentary for the state of America today.  Now comes Assassination Nation, which dials it up to 11 with its bat-shit insanity! 

Written and directed by Sam Levison, the plot synopsis for Assassination Nation reads, "After a malicious data hack exposes the secrets of the perpetually American town of Salem, chaos descends and four girls must fight to survive, while coping with the hack themselves."  No name is more appropriate than 'Salem', with this film swapping 17th century witch hysteria for 21st century social media hysteria, yet still staying true to the theme of the town's residents blaming its troubles on adolescent women.  As if navigating high school isn't hard enough, our young heroines, led by relative newcomer Odessa Young, struggle to maintain their innocence, and sanity, as their entire world crumbles around them and descends into chaos. 

In its opening minutes, Assassination Nation makes it crystal clear just what kind of film is in store for you.  It's going to examine many issues plaguing society: toxic masculinity, slut-shaming, victim blaming, homophobia, sexual objectification, etc and shove them right down our throat, and rightly so, because we've passed the point of subtlety.  There's no more dancing around these issues, hoping people pick up on the themes.  America has gone bananas, and it's time to start addressing its problems head on. 

Assassination Nation shouldn't get attention for just its themes alone.  The technical aspects are just as obvious.  The camera has no problem making its presence known, as the film breaks into a multitude of split screens numerous times throughout its runtime, directing and redirecting your attention.  The hyper stylization of the cinematography is reflective of the in your face social media age we're living in.  Everything we see these days is moving a mile a minute, vying desperately for your attention, until you get bored 10 seconds later and move on to the next thing.  The bloody violence is brutal, raw, and in your face.  You're not quite sure whether to cheer or gasp as blood runs rampant.  There's particular scene that has the eeriness of a slasher film as the camera moves around the outside of a house, tracking the movements of its inhabitants in uncomfortably voyeuristic fashion.  It's arguably my favorite scene of the film.

This is the one of those rare films that gives you exactly what you're expecting, yet also somehow manages to surprise the hell out of you.  It's loud, violent, and in your face.  It's what The Purge movies have been trying to do these last few years, yet couldn't quite pull off.  To be more direct, Assassination Nation is what The Purge (especially The First Purge) should've been.  America has some serious issues right now, and this film is trying to bring them front and center.  If I were you, I'd go in blind, don't even watch the trailer beforehand.  But be forewarned, this experience is not for the faint of heart.  There's a lot of ugliness on display, and some people might not be ready for what that says about them.

-Derek Miranda