Assassination Nation follows four (Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra) totally insufferable, twenty-something teenagers whose lives are all cell phones and partying and doing what teenagers do in these types of movies. That is until a cyber hack reveals everyone’s secrets and totally destroys everyone’s privacy, at which point all hell breaks loose in the once peaceful town of Salem as they try to find the culprit. The movie also features Bill Skarsgård in a supporting role, taking a break from playing otherworldly horrors involving the works of Stephen King.
V Magazine has called this “Mean Girls micro dosed with LSD.” I disagree. What I would call this movie is Heathers meets Spring Breakers. Sadly, this movie lacks Heathers humor, leaving just the heavy handed social commentary. Assassination Nation also lacks Spring Breakers’ excellent performance from James Franco, leaving just the trying-way-too-hard-to-be-artsy awfulness.
An example of this can be found in the film’s use of split-screens. Now, I like split screens, because when used effectively, such as in 24, it can create a cool effect. Here, where you have split screens showing all these characters moving around, making it impossible to tell what you should be looking at, and in different lighting while music blares in the background just leads to sensory overload.
The characters in this film are unlikable and not funny enough for you to ignore that. They’re also pretty one-dimensional, which just brings me back to another reason I like Heathers. The characters in that movie have some kind of depth to them. The main character hates the school clique, but is a pretty awful person herself. The bad boy isn’t a delinquent, he’s a sociopath with a tragic backstory. Even the main mean girl of that movie has depth, showing some clear signs of self-loathing really early on.
Then there’s the ending of Assassination Nation, which is terrible. This movie ends right when things are starting to get interesting. It also reveals who the hacker is right before the credits roll, which I think was unnecessary. I don’t need to know who the hacker is. Just leave him or her as the plot device to set the story in motion, especially when you’re going to provide next to no foreshadowing about their identity.
There are a couple positives about this movie. While for the most part I found it unfunny, there is a trigger warning joke towards the beginning that is amusing. It does also bring up a couple of legitimate points about modern society, such as sexuality and how there really is no such thing as privacy anymore. There’s also a home invasion scene during the climax that I thought was well done, specifically with its use of the long takes.
Here’s what I recommend: instead of watching this movie, watch Heathers, Mean Girls, Tragedy Girls or even Pretty Little Liars. All of them do have their own flaws, but at least they’re entertaining. Which, for me at least, is one of the main things that I look for when seeing a movie. To, at the very least, be entertained.