Richard has a look at Jack “o’-lantern” Black in “The House With A Clock In Its Walls,” the birth of Trump in “Fahrenheit 11/9,” and the tear-inducing (but not for the reason you think) “Life Itself” and the fist-in-your-face stylings of “Assassination Nation” with the CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
You can’t say you weren’t warned. “Assassination Nation,” the new film from writer-director Sam Levinson, comes complete with a long list of trigger warnings. Fragile Male Egos. Torture. Swearing. The list goes on. All, and more, are contained within this lurid look at life in a small town vexed by a computer hacker.
When Salem, Massachusetts high school seniors Lily (Odessa Young), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Bex (Hari Nef) and Em (Abra) aren’t in class they spend their time partying, chasing boys, sexting and sending thousands of Facebook, Instagram and twitter posts. When a computer hacker reveals the sexual peccadilloes of their town’s mayor and school principal it wakes up the sleepy suburb’s townsfolk. When the hacking continues, uncovering Lily’s cyber affair with an older man, and the deepest darkest secrets of many others, the town’s men band together to find the hacker. “The media is complicit,” they say. “People are laughing at us. We can no longer be helpless. If the government can’t save our law and order, we will do it ourselves!”
Most every hot button woes of modern life are either literally or metaphorically covered in “Assassination Nation.” Toxic masculinity, privacy concerns, desensitization to violence, mob rule, homophobia and racism for a start. It’s a Pandora’s Box of social ills, told through the prism of a satire that feels both exploitative and timely.
As the story goes on, shifting from edgy teen sex comedy to a manifesto of female empowerment it echoes back to the events of 300 years previous when rumours led to the demise of twenty of the town’s women. Blamed for their sexuality and treated as objects, the four women at the center of the story react against the righteousness and hypocrisy they say has become their town’s sickness.
“Assassination Nation” is in-your-face stuff, a movie that is part slasher flick, part call for revolution. “You may kill us,” says Lily after all hell has broken loose, “but you can’t kill us all.” It’s not always pleasant but it is never less than interesting.