But it lacks even the slightest of allegorical sci-fi figleafs. Someone wears a necklace with a cross. But then, half the town’s secrets are exposed, including a relationship between Lily and an older neighbor. But it does make a Plugged In sort of point in its cautionary, even mournful stance about the invasiveness of social media and technology. The internet amplifies these problems by turning every action into a careful performance, producing a record of everyone’s secrets, and letting people act cruelly without having to face each other. (Of course.). Someone is nearly lynched in a streetlight. Extremely blunt social satire about sexism and social media, mixed with small-town-gone-mad horror and high-school drama. Its protagonists are fighting real (if exaggerated) flavors of misogyny, but taking a scorched-earth approach that’s miles beyond the loudest real-world calls for equality. In an effort to get away from an assailant, Lily runs into a bathroom and finds it covered in blood, with a dead body in the tub. Thousands of people. Make no mistake: Assassination Nation is not what you would call a Plugged In sort of movie. “You can disagree with him and still feel empathy,” she says. She argues that the picture represents countless naked selfies the woman in the image took of herself to look “perfect” for her online oglers, and how the real scandal is billions of naked selfies floating around online. | Levinson said after the screening that the real villain in the story is not social media, but “lack of empathy.”. It makes life miserable for people who don’t fit in neat, gendered boxes, including Bex, a transgender teen. Em Suki Waterhouse. When Lily confesses to her parents that she’s the girl in some sensual photos circulating around town, her mother and father forcibly throw her out of the house. He couldn’t remember everything in his browser cache, of course, but he figured his online life was relatively clean. And how often do we do that in our own communities, bringing down the hammer when we should make a little room for grace? Yes, we’re fallen creatures. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. A man shoots himself graphically in the head, and his suicide is later replayed, from different camera angles, on social media. It encourages men to lash out violently when their masculinity is threatened. Daddy turns out to be the married father of a girl she used to babysit. A woman is apparently killed via a blow from a baseball bat; the attacker is later led away, her hands covered in blood. None of her secrets were exposed. They forcefully pull up her shirt (from the rear) and pull down her pants (just a bit) to reveal a birthmark—proving she’s the person in some faceless risqué photos that have been leaked. I’m sorry!” she cries. Assassination Nation premieres in theaters on September 21st. Levinson says he spent a lot of time simply reading what young women were putting online, and he works a surprising amount of contemporary feminist discourse into his script, sometimes at the cost of breaking the narrative flow. Transsexual Bex celebrates the mayor’s death, given his conservative political leanings. Catcallers, vigilante cops, transphobic jocks, and predatory older men are all one step away from becoming cold-blooded murderers — and the only way to stop them is to kill them first. Assassination Nation’s core interest is examining the ways that women are pushed to conform to gendered stereotypes, then punished for embodying those stereotypes — by both men and other women. Synopsis If you’re looking for something more specific, there’s an actual series of trigger warnings (transphobia, attempted rape, “fragile male egos”) at the beginning of the film. My pastor said something like that in church one Sunday morning, after yet another religious leader had fallen from grace. Parents Guide. In the small town of Salem, MA, several people in town are wearing a bunch of weird masks. Diamond Joel McHale. Lily derisively references the online phrase “#blessed” in a rant skewering the lies we tell ourselves and the emptiness that’s sometimes at work in online conversations. Taglines Every philosophical thread you might pull out of Assassination Nation is also the subject of an extremely comprehensive conversation or internal monologue. Also, how lots of people are pure evil and have to die. Lily’s brother discusses a video he watched online of a family getting mauled by seven lions, calling it “pretty cool.”. Full Cast & Crew: Assassination Nation (2018) Cast (68) Odessa Young. Okay, that’s a little bit glib. Wore women’s lingerie. Instead, the film’s best and worst attribute is its absolute rejection of subtext. Every text, every post, every search engine query is dutifully documented and logged. It has so many targets that it can be difficult to keep them all straight. “I love you! What might hackers find in our online souls? Today, our flawed hearts aren’t as hidden as they once were. The last two groups become increasingly and irredeemably monstrous as the film progresses. She tells a friend how the man used to drive her home, and one day he put her hand on her thigh—jump-starting their mostly online affair. She then takes us to the beginning of her story. (He later dubs his posse “Slay ’em High.”) Someone bites into a would-be rapist’s lip or tongue, drawing blood. It’s as graphic and as depressing a movie as I’ve seen this year, with a salient point or two thrown in the muck along the way. “You want this in real life now?” Lily says in a voiceover. In the end, the girls face dozens more—all of whom appear to be men—but they’re suddenly backed up by mostly women, giving the impression of some sort of gender-based war. | The next day, the mayor walked into a packed, angry meeting house, pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head. That of-the-minute aesthetic makes Annihilation Nation frequently cathartic. They fight in the pool until Bex gets the nail gun and kills the guy. We hear the voice of high school senior Lily Coulson (Odessa Young) saying how the people in her town lost their minds. Many of the movie’s villains say they’re out to defend traditional morality. Also, some characters risk their lives for others. Women are held at gunpoint and dragged across floors and through streets—sometimes through pools of blood. But their one-night-stand is revealed in the hacker’s data dump, spurring the boy’s friends to make scads of derogatory remarks about both him and Bex. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. But that’s no reason to wallow on our bellies. In October of last year, just days after several women accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, his frequent collaborator Woody Allen expressed fears of a “witch hunt atmosphere” for men. The actress, who belongs to the Cree (Nêhiyaw) First Nation, joins a cast that includes Jude Law as Captain Hook, Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell, and Ever Anderson as Wendy. When her pictures are leaked, a couple of guys follow her in a car. The sort of folks, Christian or not, who’d be inclined to read (and write) Plugged In movie reviews. We hear the trigger pulled repeatedly as the water grows more and more crimson. After a malicious data hack exposes the secrets of the perpetually American town of Salem, chaos descends and four girls must fight to survive, while coping with the hack themselves. Lily gets hauled into the principal’s office to explain a pornographic image she drew of a fully nude woman—possibly herself—masturbating. “Nudity is not inherently sexual,” she says, reminding her mom and dad that they have a picture of her, as a baby, on the mantel, not wearing a stitch of clothes. Lily takes provocative pictures of herself in a high school bathroom. This review comes from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a weird moment that’s played semi-jokingly, but it’s honestly a pretty effective flash-forward device. One sad result of all the leaks of secret information and images is an eruption of brutal violence in Salem. However, Bex is found and caught by Diamond, his friend Johnny (Cody Christian), and other goons. She sends them both to her high school-age boyfriend and a much-older “admirer” she calls “Daddy.” (We read lots of explicit text exchanges, as well as seeing the pictures she shares.). The world saw pictures of it all. In the words of cast member Colman Domingo during a Q&A session, “it’s a war on toxic masculinity, at all costs.” And in Assassination Nation, the hunt does end in death — many, many deaths. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Lily and her three best friends, Bex, Sarah and Em, watch the leaks as they roll out. To paraphrase some of Lily’s narration, there are three kinds of Salemites: a few good men and women, a few sadistic creeps, and a mass of bystanders who happily participate in misogynistic hate mobs. None of us are perfect, though sometimes we pretend or imagine ourselves to be better than we are. A girl tells her friends that if her own data was leaked, it would look like “a snuff film.” The friends of Bex’s temporary lover suspect the boy will commit suicide soon. A woman is chased by a would-be killer with a knife. It went viral. The film eventually transitions into something of a revenge fantasy, with the four lead characters killing several of their would-be assailants. Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. But Lily insists it’s sad for both him and his family. What conclusions might they draw? He was reminding us that as angry and as betrayed as we might’ve felt in that moment, we’re all sinners—that all of us hold thoughts and feelings that might shock, even horrify, those around us. But in the data dump were eight photos of the principal’s 6-year-old girl on his phone, naked, in the bathtub. Someone dies by a nail gun in a swimming pool. Lily, in a bit of offscreen narration, suggests that family and friends never want the “real you.” Instead, they only want a version of you that you pretend to be or that they imagine you to be. One of those targets is, well, us. At first, the hacker targets authority figures like the mayor, whose family values platform masks a hidden life of cross-dressing and Craigslist hookups. Things get even worse when a fellow student accuses Lily of being the hacker, and a violent mob comes after all four girls. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul. The girls describe the suitor as looking very creepy, one calling him “Sir Rapes-a-lot.” Lily’s father says he felt uncomfortable seeing Lily naked by age 2; Lily wonders why that would be, given that she’s his daughter. Michigan Gov. Bex, Lily’s transsexual BFF, dresses in women’s clothing and talks frequently about LGBTQ issues. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. The suicide was shown online. But rather than condemning the supposed excesses of feminism, it’s a furious, and often uncomfortable, anti-sexist revenge fantasy. When he takes the podium to insist he is neither, they boo him off the stage, ready to tear him apart. Later, Daddy takes Lily into his daughter’s room (“Princess” is strung up in lights over her tiny bed) where he attempts to have sex with her. A high school boy takes Bex into a back room during a party, and the two make out before the boy and Bex apparently have a sexual encounter (we see some explicit movements, but no nudity) that the boy feels shame about as soon as the interlude is over. There are references to pedophilia. It turns sex from a mutually pleasurable activity to a lopsided transaction. A child molester. Our hearts’ secret desires and unchecked thoughts float in the internet ether. “Maybe it is explicit or extreme, but it sure as h— looks like life to me,” she tells the principal. Bex Colman Domingo. Assassination Nation is not about getting or being better. Watching Lily’s parents physically throw their repentant, weeping daughter out of the house—a girl who’d made some mistakes, but one who, quite honestly, is still just a girl—is pretty heartbreaking.

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