“Assassination Nation” doesn’t hit hard enough


 Jeff Lamson Arts & Entertainment Editor

A bit fun and a bit political, “Assassination Nation,” is worth a watch, but has unexpected pacing and stylistic inconsistencies that come off as unneeded.

The film follows four high school girls in an American town called Salem – no, not that Salem – in which public figures’ and the entire town’s data history is shared uncovered and shared on the internet. What happens next can be compared to “The Purge,” and it is our four main characters that get blamed for the exposure.

The problem is that this synopsis which is on IMDb and even what is sold in the trailer should be the inciting incident for the meat of the film. However, the whole town’s data does not get exposed until about halfway through the film and the girls getting blamed for it is basically in the transition to the third act.

Instead of seeing them live through the chaos of this, the front half of the film is mainly setup. Not that the payoff is not satisfactory in its own way, but if one is just to go off the information given, you would think that way more of this movie was fun action scenes rather than 20-somethings at high school party scenes.

This whole expectation versus reality aspect of the viewing experience makes the front half feel long and the conclusion rushed. It is not even that there were no loose ends tied up, but for a climax set up reminiscent of “Hot Fuzz,” one might expect a little more of that.

More banter and more butt kicking could go a long way with this one.

The style of the film sometimes is fantastic, if not a little distracting. The use of pinks and blues worked to great effect in some scenes, but in others felt out of place or were not even present giving the whole film an inconsistent look to it.

Also, they did this odd three vertical panel way of showing the screen early in the film
and it did not work as well as the filmmakers might have thought. It was distracting and unnecessary when many of the scenes could have worked fine on their own and in sequence. This style never makes a return which makes it all the more out of place.

However, the single shot scene from outside the house in the climax was fantastic. It made the windows and doors serve as a restriction to the aspect ratio, increasing a sense of anxiety and claustrophobia.

It may not have been amazingly difficult, but it definitely worked as a tension builder in what is supposed to be an intense scene.

While the film was fun at times, there were some missed opportunities to go all out with it and have the kind of attitude that the narration does. And while the political messages are very much needed and in one’s opinion, accurate, it eventually becomes comparably as reductive as “The Purge,” without having as much fun with the idea as it could have. And they could have turned down the edginess. It has a montage of trigger warnings at the beginning of the film that seems to be meant as a joke which is contradictory to what one would expect of an otherwise socially conscious film.

There is much to appreciate about what this film was trying to do, and someone could still definitely have fun with it and walk away with positive messages. It is just that the package the meat comes in is not quite as good as it deserves to be.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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