Set in modern day Harlem, Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation is an unlikely dystopian horror, based around our social media obsessed society. The predominantly young cast bring to life our current concerns regarding the amount of information the internet has on us and the consequences of having this leaked to the rest of the world, which Levinson proceeds to present in a realistically gruesome manner.
A troubling trigger warning appears in the first frame and sets the scene for Levinson’s shocking adaption of our society. Racism, sexism, homophobia, rape and toxic masculinity are only a few of the themes that the film introduces at the very start.
Assassination Nation centres around a group of friends: Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse) and Em (Abra). The four 18-year-old girls are seniors at high school and during the beginning of the film, we are introduced to their tight-knit friendship based around their alternative style and stereotypical partying lifestyle, a somewhat mundane introduction to what quickly turns into a hideous nightmare.
The film begins to escalate into something taken straight out of The Purge, as the town of Salem is hacked, turning the population against each other resulting in a gruesome survival of the fittest scenario. The neon setting is used almost as a filter to try and hide the clandestine themes within the film. When Lily is eventually blamed for the online hack, the appropriately named town of Salem begin a witch hunt to find and kill the four girls, which inevitably leads to a fight against the patriarchy in one of the final scenes of the film.
Unusually for a horror film tackling issues such as rape and transphobia and featuring some of the most gruesome film scenes of the year, there is a lack of graphic sex scenes. Levinson has said that even though this film is based around the objectification and victimisation of women, he chose to avoid nudity and actual sex scenes in order to not further objectify the women within the film. A notion that is becoming ever more popular due to the rapid rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Levinson’s portrayal of an extreme dystopian fantasy, is something that feels uncomfortably too close to home, and with recent changes to a myriad of different company’s privacy agreements, it would be crazy for a viewer of Assassination Nation to not go home and delete their whole online personality and then also cover their webcam for extra safety.
By Abbie Aitken