Sam Levinson on Assassination Nation: 'There's a religiosity to ideas and ideology nowadays that's frightening'
- Katherine McLaughlin
- 23 November 2018
Actress Hari Nef and writer/director Levinson discuss the reimagining of the Salem Witch Trials
'There's nothing scarier than a large group of activated, mobilised people who believe 100% in their own unbreachable righteousness. It's so scary in fact you can make a thriller movie about it,' explains actress Hari Nef who stars in Sam Levinson's reimagining of the Salem Witch Trials, Assassination Nation. The film wears its heart on its sleeve in painting a disturbing portrait of modern America and engages with the dangers of pack mentality in the social media age with electrifying visuals and gonzo violence. Nef plays one of four teen girls, starring alongside Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse and singer Abra, who are brutally targeted after a hacker slowly releases personal online information about Salem residents. The hacker begins with the mayor, then moves on to the principle of the high school and finally as privacy keeps being attacked the population hide away and take brutal aim at anything outside societal norms in the fear that they will be next. When the finger is pointed at the group of women as the masterminds behind the hacking all hell breaks loose.
Levinson who wrote and directed the film explains his thinking behind what he wanted to convey saying, 'What this film gets at is that the internet just happens to be a new kind of frontier … the part where it gets scary is when righteousness, mob mentality and incessant vitriol gets injected into it. I think that's what this film deals with. There's a certain kind of religiosity to ideas and to ideology nowadays that is pretty frightening. That's why I used the Salem Witch Trials as a backdrop to explore this current time. I was trying to find another point in American history where shame and hysteria could lead to violence in the same way that I believe we're seeing nowadays.'