Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Levinson|
|Written by||Sam Levinson|
|Music by||Ian Hultquist|
|Edited by||Ron Patane|
|Box office||$2.5 million|
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.
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.
- Odessa Young as Lily Colson
- Suki Waterhouse as Sarah Lacey
- Hari Nef as Bex Warren
- Abra as Em Lacey
- Bella Thorne as Reagan Hall
- Bill Skarsgård as Mark
- Joel McHale as Nick Mathers
- Maude Apatow as Grace
- Colman Domingo as Principal Turrell
- Anika Noni Rose as Nancey Lacey
- Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Mason
- Lukas Gage as Eric Lafont
- Cody Christian as Johnny
- Danny Ramirez as Diamond
- Noah Galvin as Marty
- Jennifer Morrison as Margie Duncan
- J. D. Evermore as Chief Patterson
- Cullen Moss as Mayor Bartlett
- Susan Misner as Rose Mathers
- Joe Chrest as Lawrence
- Kathryn Erbe as Rebecca Colson
- Jeff Pope as Officer Richter
- Andrene Ward-Hammond as Officer Daniels
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.
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. However it ended up debuting to just $1 million, finishing 15th at the box office.
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." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film a 60% positive score and a 39% "definite recommend".
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