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Assassination Nation went from a Sundance Film Festival debut to a San Diego Comic-Con preview in Hall H, the Con’s largest-profile platform, in a little over six months.
While in Hall H on Friday, when asked to describe his film, writer-director Sam Levinson surmised: “Imagine if the comments section came alive and tried to kill everyone you know and love.”
The thriller first screened in the Midnight section of Sundance, the fest’s series of late-night screenings devoted to genre films, where it gained the attention of directing duo Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers: Infinity War) and their AGBO banner. The brothers partnered with NEON to acquire the film for a price tag said to be $10 million. At the time, buyers called the script “polarizing” and “fucked up.”
“My brother and I grew up in the independent scene. Now that we have gone on this journey that we have gone on, and using the leverage that we have coming off of our work with Marvel, we started our own studio,” explains Joe Russo, a Hall H veteran thanks to his work on Marvel’s Avengers films.
Of acquiring the movie, he adds, “We owe a karmic debt to the universe to foster and support amazing voices working in film. This is like a whole new generation of filmmaking.”
Assassination Nation is set in a small Salem town that is victim to a massive data hack that reveals everyone’s personal information, including damaging secrets, which makes the town erupt into violence (extreme violence, if the red band trailer is any indication).
Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra and Bella Thorne all star, along with Bill Skarsgard and Joel McHale, who worked with the Russo brothers on Community.
The movie heavily deals with the politics of social media and the Internet at large, and takes a look at when an online life can become deadly.
“I’ve been putting messy stuff on the Internet since like second grade,” jokes Nef of her own internet history. “Our Instagram is not us, it’s a girl who has our name and pictures.”
Joe Russo has his own complicated relationship with the Internet, especially since entering the MCU. He says, “Since Infinity War came out I am avoiding it. Because there are a lot of angry Loki fans.”
Assassination Nation has been described as a coming-of-age movie, a dark comedy, a horror thriller, an action movie and, as the The Hollywood Reporter Sundance review put it, “energetically lurid, gratuitously violent and a hell of a lot of fun.”
As for what constitutes the core message of the film, Nef says, “I think it’s about being a girl in 2018 and not dying while doing that. It’s a lot harder than you would think, actually.”
Assassination Nation hits theaters September 21, 2018.
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