‘It’s a comedy, a drama, a teen, coming-of-age film wrapped up in a popcorn crunching blockbuster,’ says Hari Nef, speaking at the BFI’s London Film Festival.
A modern day retelling of the Salem witch trials set in the Snapchat age, Assassination Nation is just that – an irreverent, candy coloured, pop-horror which aims to skewer fragile masculinity and misogynistic hysteria with Sahara dry satire and four, matching, red-plastic macs.
When a mysterious hacker dumps the texts, emails, photos and search histories of more than half the the town’s residents on the internet for all to see, collective panic turns into hivemind rage as the injured parties begin their hunt for a scapegoat.
Four high-school friends – Lily (Odessa Young), Bex (Hari Nef), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse) and Em (Abra) – fit the bill perfectly. Their willingness to call out sexist double-standards becomes all the evidence the mob needs to exact their revenge for the hack.
The ensuing violence becomes what Hari Nef calls the ‘personification of alt-right Twitter,’ an uncensored look at what it means for women and girls to grow up on the internet today.
Even if we don’t have groups of men scouring the streets looking for women to rape and kill, the violence Lily, Bex, Sarah and Em have to confront will be all too familiar to women used to the grim realities of social media. The actor argues that, ‘what’s not really acknowledged is that, 15/16/17 year-old girls are, kind of living this right now. Even from the time you’re 13, especially when you have the internet, you’re exposed to so much.’
— BFI (@BFI) October 19, 2018
That honesty about what it’s like to curate your life on an internet that can so often, be so hostile to millennial women, is what caught the actor’s attention when she first got hold of the script; ‘it was much more vivid than what I was used to experiencing from scripts that represented late-millennial, early gen-Z women … their individual struggles are smoothed over by a collective sense of community and a sense of being a unit in a hostile environment.’
Hari Nef hopes the film communicates an important message about how women and girls can deal with internet trolls and other misogynistic attacks.
She said, ‘I think this film demonstrates the singular and unique power that girls have when they band together. It’s not like these girls are seeking vengeance, or waging a war, or even fighting back. They’re defending themselves. That is logically and materially much easier to do when the numbers are on your side, and the love is there.’
Assassination Nation is available on Blue-Ray, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand now.