Assassination Nation kicks off with a slew of trigger warnings – a fun gag letting you know all the sordid topics to be covered. Graphic and disorienting, the film spends about an hour and a half punching you in the gut, sprinting between modern horrors like it’s going for Fox News Bingo. It’s sharp, energetic and completely necessary.
For allies, aware of the world’s catastrophic treatment of minority groups but privileged not to experience them, it’s a tough watch. As for those who’ve suffered these situations, Assassination Nation might go too far – although anyone making it to the end is rewarded with the most beautiful catharsis. The final act is truly explosive, and puts revenge horrors to shame in how rewarding violent justice can be. While Levinson’s directorial approach is scattershot, it still hits the target nine times out of ten – including one moment that jumps into one of the best cinema finger-snaps of the year.
Odessa Young is captivating in the lead, juggling victim, vixen and vicious with ease. She’s the voice of reason in a rancid town – and the film is all the better for her sensitive performance. Meanwhile, Hari Nef is the film’s heart and sells the hell out of some very tough scenes. The rest of the #squad are largely sidelined, although Suki Waterhouse stands out in the fleeting moments she’s given. Meanwhile Joel McHale and Bill Skarsgård are perfectly detestable on the other side of the gun; Skarsgård in particular makes Pennywise look like a perfect gentleman.
Assassination Nation is shlocky and stupefying, a cult classic in the making. Look out for a late-night screening near you – but be prepared for a few walkouts. Only the most maverick of the midnight screening crowd will put up with its pulpy punch of fourth-wall breaking viscera.
CAST: Odessa Young, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse, Abra
DIRECTOR: Sam Levinson
WRITER: Sam Levinson
SYNOPSIS: After a malicious data hack exposes the secrets of the American town of Salem, chaos descends and four girls must fight to survive, while coping with the hack themselves.