This movie is bonkers. It is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I love it. It is one of the most realistic high school movies I’ve seen… until it isn’t. Very few movies can balance many genres as well as Assassination Nation. I would have no problem categorizing this movie under 20 different genres. Teen dramedy, horror, suspense, over the top action movie, character study, political satire, and comedy are all equally attributable to this film. This shouldn’t work. For a lot of people, it won’t work. It worked for me.
Some images and lines from this movie are unforgettable and incredibly poignant. “There are two types of people. The people who have accepted that privacy is dead, and the old people who try to fight it,” especially stands out. Just when this movie seems to be an average teen movie that sensationalizes sex and drinking, it subverts your expectations and has a mature take on the subject. For example, one of our main characters spends the first twenty or so minutes fantasizing with her friends about getting laid. It portrays sex as some “holy grail” that will solve everything and be perfect. Normal teenage movie stuff, right? Later that day, she goes to a party and gets wasted. Her crush gets equally drunk, and they have sex in the bedroom. It sensationalizes this moment as well, putting peppy pop music over it. You know where this is going. She runs out and high fives her friends and talks about how perfect it was. No. She sits on the bed alone and cries because it didn’t meet the ridiculous expectations that society has enforced. There are lots of very interesting ideas and subjects like nudity and how it should not be inherently sexual, teen romance, social media, pedophilia, transgender teens, redemption, self-value, and suicide. They don’t address them how you think they would though. It doesn’t tell you how you should think. It just gives you ideas and lets you decide. They sprinkle these in among the humor and the over-the-top violence to make these scenes more effective and accessible than if it was a completely serious drama.
Not only is this film incredibly poignant, it is a feast for the eyes. There is a three-minute shot of a home invasion that moves the camera around the house, and you can see different scenes unfold through the windows. It doesn’t cut when you think it will, and It elegantly moves thorough the house while displaying many different events. This one shot is worth the price of admission alone. The action is surprising and well shot as well. I love this movie, but there is a pretty big chance that you won’t. It’s a lot. The abundance of gore and disturbing scenes are huge turn-offs for most people, and the jarring changes of tones might lead people to believe that the film is messy and convoluted. I think the film uses the different tones to show the sadness and frustration that teens are compelled to hide by a happy exterior. I don’t know if that was intentional, but I like to think it was. Despite the exaggerated violence and the focus on bloody kickassery, this one of the most realistic depictions of technology, social media’s positives and negatives, and teenagers’ inner thoughts. I’m sure there is a lot more to uncover in this movie, and I can’t wait to watch it again.
(P.S: Hey marketing team, you need to reevaluate your business model. You opened wide, and you didn’t even crack the top ten? That is abysmal. Boo.)