Assassination Nation is the type of film that would have seemed like outright fantasy before Trump’s America. Now it seems like a reality, in an age of fake news; a film that is almost like trolling, or a deliberate prank.
Starring a legion of the bright young things of today, including Disney star Bella Thorne, model and transgender rights activist Hari Nef, Bill Skarsgård (still hot from his Pennywise gig), Maude Apatow (spawn of Judd) and model Suki Waterhouse, it excels at its frenetic, exhilarating surfaces.
The bombastic, ADHD-style acid montages distract from what is otherwise a story that could conceivably happen today; an anonymous hacker starts leaking personal texts, messages and emails in the town of Salem, Massachusetts; an ironic winking nod to the witches of Salem.
In an age of transparency, the insulated world of high school stands in for the real world, and what erupts is Purge-like mob violence of all men - with the girls having to work together to defeat them - the antithesis of Harmony Korine’s Springbreakers, where feminism is pushed aside for video game-style thrills. The satirical violence here doesn’t feel new, nor its parable about the overuse of social media and the fragility of our online selves. Yet it still manages to elicit a heart-in-the-throat momentum throughout, especially with such powerful females; totems that stand in for the ways women - online and off - are shamed into silence for a myriad of things done to them, as well as commentating on women as scapegoats throughout culture (another nod back to the witches of Salem).
The line between exploitation and entertainment is a thin one. Utilising the buzz words of a liberally conscious today (‘toxic masculinity’, ‘transphobia’, ‘fragile male egos’), it works best when its message is ignored and the focus is on its energetic pace and its stirring visuals.
What could be something angry and potent about male entitlement and female anger is left feeling cheap; using issues of today to become no more than a viral 110 minute video.
ASSASSINATION NATION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: SAM LEVINSON / STARRING: ODESSA YOUNG, HARI NEF, SUKI WATERHOUSE, BILL SKARSGÅRD / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 23RD
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10