Assassination Nation is not a film for the faint of heart. Every trigger warning that the trailer contains occurs within the film, making it not only a wild ride to watch, but a rough one as well. The film touches on fears within our society and reminds us of the mass hysteria that can occur based on a person’s actions. They may be actions that we do not understand, but nonetheless, they damage everyone and everything around them, setting the world ablaze and maintaining a Purge-like quality that forces its viewers to ponder what they would do if they were in the same situation.
The film focuses on four teenager girls inevitably fighting to survive the night after an incomprehensible data hack destroys the lives of the citizens in the town of Salem. Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), and Em (Abra) are extremely close and they know everything about one another. Everyone is an open book, or so they want you to believe, but everyone has a secret lurking beneath the surface and most of the time, these are not secrets we want the rest of the world to know.
That’s what Assassination Nation does. It forces us to wonder what would happen if our deepest and darkest secrets were to be revealed to everyone. From our photos, browser histories, and even our text and private messaging exchanges, we all keep private information on our phones and computers. Although, with a couple of clicks, our “private” worlds could suddenly be exposed, sending everything we know to quickly come crashing down. Just like that our world implodes around us leaving a trail of devastation that we might not recover from. People complaining about a lack of privacy is valid and this film shows that like none other.
While some might conclude that parts of the film are merely for shock value, considering the messages that the film attempts to tell viewers, I disagree. The social commentaries running rampant within the feature are important. Assassination Nation is a film that makes its audience think of how their actions impact the world around them and this is such an important message. One theme coursing throughout the duration of the film is that we do not really know those around us and what they are inflicting upon us, whether that be verbal or physical. How do we know who is good and who is bad when everyone can hide behind a screen so well?
With this in mind, audiences are also forced to answer how they would handle finding out information about their friends, family, neighbors, and public officials. Many characters within the film have to face the consequences of living their lives and are harshly criticized and judged for their truths. Principal Turrell (Colman Domingo) provides a prime example of how important it is to know the whole story. Mayor Bartlett (Cullen Moss) reminds viewers that compassion towards others goes a long way. We also learn that those good people in our lives can turn on us at the drop of a hat, which is an absolutely terrifying message.
All of the performances in the film are absolutely amazing. From the characters that I loved to the ones I loathed, I have nothing but high praise for everyone involved By the end of the film we do not appreciate Mark (Bill Skarsgård) or Nick (Joel McHale) but their performances demand praise. While viewers might care about what happens to these characters at first they do by the end. The range displayed in McHale’s role alone is beyond spectacular. I cannot speak highly enough about his performance, despite his character Nick making me cringe.
The females in the film also deserve all the praise. By the end of the film, each young woman contributes in such a manner that makes one question come to mind. Would the town have reacted the same way if this was a group of young men? Would they have gone after these teens in the same manner that takes place within the film? I’m not entirely sure they would have. I think that is what makes the film’s ending, including some of the end credits, so powerful. Women can do anything and should not have shame inflicted upon them or feel worthless merely because of being a female.
Ultimately, Assassination Nation brings up topics that some of us might be uncomfortable with. It forces us to watch what occurs when people have a phobia toward another human being and the pure hatred radiating outward into the world.
The film makes us wonder why assumptions and judgments are so quick to occur within our society. Why do we not take the time to talk anymore? Why must a mob-like mentality occur and the torches immediately be lit? The truth is there are no answers to those questions. There’s not even an answer to a person’s motives most of the time anymore. What we do know is that we really should do better and be better and that is not a bad message to walk away from the film with.