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
108 minutes [3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[4]
Box office$2.9 million[5]

Assassination Nation is a 2018 American black comedy thriller teensploitation film[6] 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.[7]


The film opens with a montage of trigger warnings that show brief scenes depicting topics including bullying, blood, abuse, classism, death, drinking, drug use, sexual content, toxic masculinity, homophobia, transphobia, guns, nationalism, racism, kidnapping, murder, attempted murder, the male gaze, giant frogs, sexism, swearing, torture, violence, gore, weapons, and fragile male egos.

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

During the party, Marty, a casual hacker, receives a message from an unknown hacker about Mayor Bartlett, a known anti-gay candidate. He reveals pictures of Bartlett engaging with male escorts and dressing up in women's clothing, which Marty forwards to the entire town. During the press conference in which he's supposed to address the facts, Bartlett instead kills himself with a revolver in front of the crowd. Principal Turrell, Lily's kindhearted and heart-warming school principal, is the next to be hacked, with pictures of his 6-year-old daughter in the bath making people view him as a pedophile. During the meeting with angry parents, he refuses to resign because he knows he will set things right for all his students in his school, even when their secrets are gravely at stake.

As the police question Marty about the hacks, a massive data dump of half the people in Salem is posted. Lily's classmate Grace discovers that her best friend Reagan has sent nude pictures of her to her boyfriends, and bashes Reagan's brains in with a baseball bat during cheerleading practice, causing the other cheerleaders to run away. "Daddy" is revealed to be Em and Sarah'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 and disowned from her family. As she walks down her street, shunned, homeless, and miserable, she is harassed by a man in a truck who films her and then chases her with a knife. She manages to stun him with a shovel and make a hasty retreat to Em and Sarah's house.

One week later, most of the town have donned masks and taken up arms to get revenge on those they think have wronged them. A masked Nick and other men capture Marty, who they torture into admitting that the source of the hacks came from Lily's IP address. Before stabbing Marty to death, they upload a video of his forced confession. They track down Lily at Em and Sarah's house, where she is currently hiding. The masked assailants break in and kidnap Em and Sarah. Their mother, Nance, intervenes, trying to keep the marauders at bay, but fails as she is shot and killed by one of them. Em and Sarah are captured and put into the back of a police car. Bex, who was also there, successfully takes out one of the attackers with a nail gun and escapes, while Lily hides in Nick's house. Nick at first pretends to help her but then pulls out a knife, intending to rape her. Lily is able to fight Nick off, and she slits his throat with a makeshift weapon. Downstairs she discovers a large cache of weapons including firearms and two katanas, taking as many as she can to her own advantage; Lily ambushes and shoots a police officer holding Em and Sarah hostage to death and frees her friends. Meanwhile, after escaping the Lacey residence, Bex attempts to look for help only to be ignored by the residents of the home and to be also kidnapped by Johnny. She is about to be publicly hanged in retribution for Diamond's humiliation over having sex with her, and Diamond's friend Johnny tries to force Diamond to perform the hanging, but Bex is able to make him vouch for her. Johnny threateningly has no choice but to take matters into his own hands until Lily, Em, and Sarah show up just in time to rescue Bex and execute her assailants. With no other options left, Johnny finally surrenders, and Diamond eventually joins the girls soon after; Lily soon makes a video calling out other women and men in the town to stand up and fight back against their tormentors in an effort to clear her name, commencing a great war for order in Salem.

After the final battle, the film cuts to Donny, Lily's younger brother, revealed as the criminal mastermind behind the hacks, now facing a life sentence behind bars for cyberterrorism, murder, and invasion of privacy. When asked why he did it by his parents, Donny shrugs and says, "I don't know, for the lulz?"

The credits roll over the Salem High marching band playing Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" while walking 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.[8]

The movie is also produced by Bron Studios and Phantom Four, in association with Creative Wealth Media.[9]

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.[10]

In March 2017, Bella Thorne, Maude Apatow, Bill Skarsgård, Joel McHale, Colman Domingo and Noah Galvin joined the cast.[11][12][13]

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.[14]


Principal photography began in March 2017 in New Orleans. 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 129 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.63/10. 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. ^ . IMDb Missing or empty |title= (help)
  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 October 30, 2019.
  6. ^ Lee, Chris. "Comic-Con: 'Assassination Nation' Not Just "the Teen Purge" - Vulture". Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  7. ^ Giles, Jeff (September 20, 2018). "The House with a Clock in Its Walls Ticks Along Tolerably". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 28, 2016). "Matthew Malek & Anita Gou Launch Indie Company Foxtail Entertainment". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  9. ^ Nicholson, Amy (January 22, 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Assassination Nation'". Variety. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (December 21, 2016). "Suki Waterhouse, Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Abra to Star in 'Assassination Nation'". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave (March 1, 2017). "Bella Thorne, Maude Apatow, Joel McHale Join Thriller 'Assassination Nation'". Variety. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Ford, Rebecca (March 1, 2017). "Bella Thorne, Joel McHale, Maude Apatow, Bill Skarsgard Join 'Assassination Nation'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ McNary, Dave (April 19, 2017). "Anika Noni Rose Joins Thriller 'Assassination Nation' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. 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 August 1, 2019.
  21. ^ "Assassination Nation Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 24, 2018.

External links[edit]