Assassination Nation

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Assassination Nation
Assassination Nation poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Levinson
Produced by
Written bySam Levinson
Music byIan Hultquist
CinematographyMarcell Rév
Edited byRon Patane
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 21, 2018 (2018-01-21) (Sundance)
  • September 21, 2018 (2018-09-21) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[4]
Box office$2.5 million[5]

Assassination Nation is a 2018 American black comedy thriller film written and directed by Sam Levinson. It stars Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Anika Noni Rose, Colman Domingo, Maude Apatow, Bill Skarsgård, Joel McHale and Bella Thorne. In the film, the city of Salem, a fictional town, devolves into chaos and violence after a computer hacker discovers and leaks personal secrets about many of its residents.

Assassination Nation had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018, and was released in the United States on September 21, 2018, followed by a release in the United Kingdom on November 23, 2018, by Neon, AGBO and Refinery29. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its "frenetic and visually stylish" action but criticized the thinly-written characters.[6]


The film opens with a montage of trigger warnings that show brief scenes depicting topics ranging from toxic masculinity and transphobia to fragile male egos and giant frogs.

In Salem, Lily Colson is a regular high school senior who regularly hangs out with her best friends Bex, Em, and Sarah. The girls go to a party where Bex hooks up with her crush Diamond, meanwhile Lily goes to be alone with her boyfriend Mark while simultaneously texting someone named "Daddy" behind his back. After sex, Diamond leaves Bex and tells her to keep their hookup a secret as Bex is transgender.

The next day, Marty, a casual hacker, receives a message from an unknown hacker about Mayor Bartlett, a known anti-gay candidate, showing pictures of Bartlett engaging with male escorts and dressing up in women's clothing, which Marty then sends out to the entire town afterwards. The scandal becomes so distressing for Bartlett that he goes before a conference of people and kills himself with a revolver in front of them. Principal Turrell, the principal at Lily's high school, is the next to be hacked, and pictures of his 6-year-old daughter in the bath are spread, making people view Turrell as a pedophile. He goes before a conference of people but refuses to resign, despite being advised otherwise.

As the police question Marty over Bartlett and Turrell's hacked information, a massive data dump of half the people in Salem is posted online. Lily's acquaintance Grace discovers that her best friend Reagan had spread nude pictures of her to a guy she liked, and attacks Reagan with an aluminum baseball bat during cheerleading practice. "Daddy" is revealed to be Em's neighbor Nick Mathers, who Lily used to babysit for. Lily's lewd pictures and videos that she sent to Nick are made public when his information is leaked. As a result, she is exposed and humiliated by Mark, kicked out of the house by her parents, and is sexually harassed on the street when looking for a place to stay. A man in a truck tries to film her first and then to stab her, but she bashes his face in with a shovel.

One week later, most of the men in town have donned masks and taken up arms to defend their secrets and get revenge on people they think have wronged them. A masked Nick and other men find Marty, who they torture into admitting that the source of the hacks was from Lily's IP address on a live video. They then stab Marty to death, and Lily and her friends see the video. Unbeknownst to the girls, masked assailants have tracked them down and surrounded them at Em and Sarah's house. The assailants break in and capture Em and Sarah. Their mother Nance kills two of the men, but she is shot and killed by another. Em and Sarah are put into the back of a police car. Bex successfully kills one of the attackers with a nail gun in the pool and escapes while Lily runs to safety at Nick's house. Nick at first pretends to help her but then pulls out a knife, intending to rape her. Lily's able to fight him off, and she slits his throat with a makeshift weapon. She then goes downstairs to discover a large supply of weapons including firearms and two katanas, taking as many as she can.

Lily confronts the police officer holding Em and Sarah in his car. She shoots him to death, and frees her friends. They find Bex, who is about to be publicly hung as retribution for Diamond's humiliation over having sex with her. Johnny tries to force Diamond to perform the hanging, but Bex is able to change his mind. Johnny takes matters into his own hands, but Lily, Em, and Sarah arrive just in time to rescue Bex and kill her assailants. Bex lets Johnny live when he surrenders and also sets Diamond free. Lily then makes a video calling out other young women in the neighborhood to stand up and fight back against the armed men. Lily and her friends are joined by an army of young women as they come up against an army of masked assailants.

After the final battle the film cuts to Donny, Lily's younger brother, revealing he was the one behind the hacks, and is now facing a life sentence. When asked why he did it, Donny shrugs and says, "I don't know, for the LOLs?"

The credits roll over the Salem High marching band marching and dancing down a street surrounded by dead bodies and destroyed vehicles.




On October 2016, Matthew Malek and Anita Gou launched the independent label Foxtail Entertainment. The duo announced the movie as their first project. David S. Goyer and Kevin Turen joined them to produce the movie.[7]

The movie is also produced by Bron Studios and Phantom Four, in association with Creative Wealth Media.[8]

After the premiere at Sundance Film Festival, Neon acquired the movie rights. AGBO signed a deal with 30West, a company who acquired a majority stake in Neon, to co-distribute the film with Neon.[1]

In July 2018, Refinery29 also signed with Neon to co-distribute the movie with them and AGBO.[2]


In December 2016, Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef and Abra joined the main cast of the film.[9]

In March 2017, Bella Thorne, Maude Apatow, Bill Skarsgård, Joel McHale, Colman Domingo and Noah Galvin joined the cast.[10][11][12]

In April 2017, Anika Noni Rose joined the cast for the role of Nance, an attractive woman with terrible taste in men, who has an unfortunate reputation in the conservative town of Salem.[13]


Principal photography began in March 2017 in New Orleans.[14] The sequence where the girls are attacked in Nance's home was shot in a single take using a crane.[15]


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018.[16][17] It was released on September 21, 2018 by Neon, AGBO and Refinery29.


Box office[edit]

In the United States and Canada, Assassination Nation was released alongside The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Life Itself and Fahrenheit 11/9, and did poorly in theaters. The film was projected to gross around $4 million in its opening weekend from 1,403 theaters.[18] However it ended up debuting to just $1 million, finishing 15th at the box office.[19]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 106 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Assassination Nation juggles exploitation and socially aware elements with mixed results, but genre fans may find it too stylish and viscerally energetic to ignore."[20] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[21] Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film a 60% positive score and a 39% "definite recommend".[19]


  1. ^ a b c Fleming Jr, Mike (January 23, 2018). "Huge Deal! NEON Teams With Russo Bros-Led AGBO In $10M+ Deal For 'Assassination Nation'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Greg (July 31, 2018). "Refinery29 Partners With NEON For Feature Film Expansion; 'Assassination Nation', 'Little Woods' First Titles". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "Assassination Nation". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Scott, Mike (March 16, 2017). "Who's filming in New Orleans? Kristen Stewart, Jim Caviezel and more". Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  5. ^ "Assassination Nation (2018)". The Numbers. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Giles, Jeff (September 20, 2018). "The House with a Clock in Its Walls Ticks Along Tolerably". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  7. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 28, 2016). "Matthew Malek & Anita Gou Launch Indie Company Foxtail Entertainment". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  8. ^ Nicholson, Amy (January 22, 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Assassination Nation'". Variety. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (December 21, 2016). "Suki Waterhouse, Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Abra to Star in 'Assassination Nation'". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (March 1, 2017). "Bella Thorne, Maude Apatow, Joel McHale Join Thriller 'Assassination Nation'". Variety. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Ford, Rebecca (March 1, 2017). "Bella Thorne, Joel McHale, Maude Apatow, Bill Skarsgard Join 'Assassination Nation'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  12. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 30, 2017). "Aaron McCusker To Co-Star In Indie Film 'Incoming'; Noah Galvin Joins 'Assassination Nation'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (April 19, 2017). "Anika Noni Rose Joins Thriller 'Assassination Nation' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  14. ^ Mail, Daily (March 9, 2017). "Now that's one way to celebrate a touchdown! Bella Thorne the racy cheerleader straddles hunky quarterback on set of new movie". Daily Mail. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "2018 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: FEATURE FILMS ANNOUNCED". Sundance Film Festival. November 29, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  17. ^ "Sundance Program Schedule" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  18. ^ Fuster, Jeremy (September 18, 2018). "Can 'House With a Clock in Its Walls' Become the Fall's First Family Box Office Hit?". TheWrap. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  19. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 22, 2018). "'The House With A Clock In Its Walls' Waking Up To $24M+ Alarm; Counterprogramming Hits Snooze – Friday PM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  20. ^ "Assassination Nation (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  21. ^ "Assassination Nation Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 24, 2018.

External links[edit]