A Brief History
On September 21, 2018, the new Comedy/Horror film, Assassination Nation, premiered across the United States. They remembered to keep in the “horror,” but left out most of the “comedy,” and that is all right with us! A thoroughly modern comment on human nature in the age of social media and computers, a group of suburban high school girls is the center of the drama created when an unknown hacker starts releasing everyone’s secret texts, emails, and downloads. A “Purge” like scenario develops where bloodthirsty, offended, hypocritical citizens are out to avenge those people found to be engaged in objectionable behavior in the private archives of others and those the “victims” believe are responsible for the breach of privacy.
For those that enjoy slasher films and murder galore (like us), Assassination Nation fills the bill. Rated R for violence, gore and sexual situations, the film skirted an NC-17 rating over a scene in which a high school girl’s erotic drawing is discussed with the school’s principal. Horror movies have definitely joined the computer age and recent films have showcased horror in conjunction with social media. Assassination Nation joins the ranks of those films focusing on this modern aspect of life crossing both young people and mature adults.
The film starts out somewhat weird, with the liberal use of montage to set up the background and somewhat develop the characters. The second half of the movie is considerably more action oriented as the outrage and killing starts. (As always, we decline to give away the entire plot and spoilers.) As the main group of girl friends (including a transsexual played by real life transsexual actress Hari Nef) desperately tries to avoid the wrath of the community, some seriously amusing and entertaining confrontations take place, sometimes with desperate high-tension, at times gut wrenching, and sometimes with borderline comedy. Suffice to say, the action ramps up as the movie progresses, so try to get impatient. The ending is pretty cool, and the culprit is revealed at the end. Can you figure out who it is before the big reveal? (We did not see it coming.) The very ending of the film gives the audience a truly WTF moment, which you will just have to see for yourself.
Written and directed by Sam Levinson, he of The Wizard of Lies screenwriting credit (about Bernie Madoff), the writing and directing are a lot better than you might expect from someone with limited experience. We believe this guy can go far. The stars are well played and well-cast, especially main character Lily played by Odessa Young, someone we also believe has a great future in the business. Suki Waterhouse and songstress ABRA also star (along with Hari Nef) as the 4 main girls. Joel McHale plays an out of usual character non-comedic role as a possible pervert and Bill Skarsgård lends some star power.
A medium length film of 110 minutes running time, it drags a little in the beginning but picks up to where you quickly forget the draggy part. We believe you will be sucked in to empathize/sympathize with “good guys” and root mightily for their salvation. Let us know if our prediction is correct.
Although critics are lukewarm on the film we think audiences will prevail and give it a much higher “like” rating. We like horror movies and we definitely liked Assassination Nation. Let us know if we got this right.
Questions for students (and others): What do you think about high school kids sexting? What about adults sexting? Do you think social media leaves people vulnerable to blackmail or embarrassment? Do we need to have classes in each level (primary, junior high/middle school, and high school) to educate students about the dangers and pitfalls of sexting, texting, emails, and social media?
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For more information, please see…
Hamilton, Jennifer. Understanding the Dangers of Social Media. Amazon Digital Services, 2015.
West, Elle. Exposed: The Dangers of Social Media, Pornography, and Sex Trafficking. Amazon Digital Services, 2018.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Bruno Chatelin from https://www.flickr.com/photos/filmfestivals/25736048381/in/album-72157665843225271/ of Odessa Young at the 72nd Venice Film Festival in 2016, was originally posted to Flickr by festivals gallery at https://flickr.com/photos/10249456@N08/25736048381. It was reviewed on by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. You are free:
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