“Assassination Nation” by Sam Levinson

Director: Sam Levinson

Cinematographer: Marcell Rev

Writers: Sam Levinson

Stars: Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, Abra

Rating: 85

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Assassination Nation enters a lucid, dream-like state, as the small town of Salem “loses its fucking minds.” In the most unsettling film of 2018, four high school girls trying to deal with the problems in their own lives, are thrown into a hellish nightmare fueled by testosterone induced masculinity and what’s left over is an incredibly stylized and visceral film that is a sheer delight.

The story has many layers, as the opening sequences of the film suggest. And that sequence with its *trigger warning* sets the tone for the entire film. This film, done with little subtlety, is a mirror of our society in every which way. It’s an indictment on American’s quick trigger anger, toxic masculinity and how it feeds hate and shows a level of awareness that is refreshing. It tackles issues that have rarely been addressed in the film itself and does it both delicately while blowing the opposing viewpoints away with shotguns.

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Back to the plot, the story follows Lily (Odessa Young), self-aware trailblazing feminists and her three best friends that are inseparable and always there for each other. Lily deals with parents that don’t understand youth in the modern age, a creepy 40-year old neighbor who has a sick infatuation with her, played by Joel McHale, on top of her boyfriend who devolves into a domestic abuser (Bill Skarsgard). On top of all those problems, a hacker begins leaking town information, turning the town of Salem into, you guessed it, a massive town-wide witch hunt that doesn’t consider their own actions for a second. Again, relating directly to our the current state of America.

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The heart of the story is the friendship, but no one stole the screen as much as Bex (Hari Nef), a transgender girl that is written so beautifully into the story and played wonderfully by Hari. Her own sub-plots are not only complex and symbolic, but her presence brings everything together. She’s one of the most memorable characters of 2018, and the very best example of our capacity to love despite the nonsensincle hate.

Levinson made this film stick out. From the use editing sequences together to show the state of each character, to the morose color palette that speaks to their emotional state, to the symbolism of the cinematography and the montage sequences that are jarring. Assassination throws quite out, but it all plays into the hectic nature of the film.

Lastly, in terms of a visceral experience, Assassination Nation is incredibly unsettling and maddening. It reminded me of Aronofsky’s “mother!” from last year in which the editing and world building build this overwhelming sense of dread. It’s all culminated into a beautiful scene of revenge, that unlike most films, is not overdone in the slightest.

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One of the best of the year and a microcosm of our own world at the moment. It will piss people off while empowering others. It’s not just surface level entertainment. It brings a kick-ass mentality that isn’t overdone or cliche. It’s one of the most unique film experiences available.

Go see it for the lulz.

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