TIFF18: Assassination Nation

A series of internet leaks results in chaos in a small town in Assassination Nation. Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), and Em (Abra) are four teenage friends in the town of Salem. The girls’ lives are turned upside down when half the town’s cellphones are hacked, revealing that Lily has been exchanging provocative texts with her neighbour Nick (Joel McHale). However, things quickly go from bad to worse when the townsfolk of Salem decide to take violent measures to get revenge for the leaks.

Written and directed by Sam Levinson, the son of Barry Levinson, Assassination Nation is a film that began as a satire, but has turned into a mirror image of the type of country American has become, where mob mentality rules and there’s a call for blood on anyone who disrupts the social norm. Lily already had her problems with her borderline abusive boyfriend Mark (Bill Skarsgård) and how she gets in trouble at home and school for her liberal views about sexuality. However, things truly go bad when Lily is accused of causing the hack, resulting in a literal Salem witch-hunt against Lily and her friends.

Over the course of its running time, Assassination Nation progresses from being like a modern day Mean Girls to The Purge, before settling on being a female revenge film for the blood-soaked climax. Despite being directed by a male, Assassination Nation is very much a female empowerment movie, as it builds up to the victims fighting back against their oppressors. That said, the parallels between what happens to this small town and the world we currently live in is absolutely frightening.