There Will Never Be Another High School Movie Like Assassination Nation

Photo: Courtesy of Neon.
At one point in Assassination Nation, out September 21, Lily (Odessa Young) realizes she has to fight back — fight with razors and knives, not with words. This is no game. That bathroom scene depicts a baptism by blood, a woman brandishing herself with the inner steel to survive a world far more brutal than it was a week ago. Weapons, she has. Grit, though — that she has to learn. And here she is, learning it.
For the four young women in Assassination Nation, revenge is tied inextricably with survival. After half of the town of Salem's phones are hacked, the citizens descend into a state of lawless mayhem — and, for reasons we won't spoil, these four high school girls become the angry mob's primary targets. Violence is done to these high schoolers, and they do it right back. Assassination Nation provocatively suggests that by embracing their perpetrator's violent tactics, Lily and her friends can vanquish these individuals, and usher in a better world order.
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In order to tell its story of persecution, mob mentality, and revenge, Assassination Nation borrows from history — see: the Salem witch trials – and from cinema. While the movie is hardly the first to cast high school girls as ruthless revenge-seekers, it's certainly the first to set that story squarely in the digital age. Here are the other times teenage girls bared their teeth and got revenge in movie history,
It’s Heathers meets The Purge when a town-wide data leak means four teen girls have to rise up against slut-shaming, hate, and toxic masculinity. Get ready for Assassination Nation, the first film in an exclusive partnership from Refinery29 and Neon. Grab your tickets now for the theatrical release on September 21.
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Carrie (1976)

Like most teenage girls, Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is brimming with pent-up emotion. But Carrie's an extreme case. At school, she's ruthlessly bullied. At home, she's demeaned and manipulated by her religious mother at home. So, unlike most teenage girls, Carrie develops telekinetic powers as a result of her extreme depth of feeling. Eventually, she's sent over the edge and unleashes her powers at Carrie's conclusion.

The ultimate revenge scene: After her classmates conspire to spill pig's blood on her during prom, Carrie retaliates with unforgettable brutality. She kills everyone in the gymnasium.
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Heathers (1988)

What do you do when keeping up with the cool kids is slowly sapping your life of vitality? You can patiently wait until you graduate and find cooler, nicer kids in college. Or, if you're Veronica (Winona Ryder) in Heathers, you can fall under the spell of a charming sociopath named J.D. (Christian Slater) who convinces you it's all right — nay, it's good — to murder the cool kids. In an era marked by student-on-student gun violence, though, Heathers can be difficult to stomach.

The ultimate revenge scene: Veronica and J.D.'s first victim is Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), Veronica's "best friend." After they poison her, Veronica can't quite believe it. But she gets over the moral panic quickly and becomes queen bee herself — and then starts dispatching with the others.
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The Craft (1996)

In the fall of 2018, witches will fly into pop culture on broomsticks and hopefully stick around indefinitely. To prepare yourself for Charmed and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, watch The Craft, a high school movie that features power-hungry teenage girls with magical capabilities. Sign us up.

The ultimate revenge scene: Some girls, perhaps, can maintain balance and reason in the face of the immense power that comes with witchcraft. Nancy (Fairuza Balk), who becomes more power-hungry and unhinged over the course of the movie, cannot. In an intense scene, she gets revenge on her friend's trash boyfriend, Chris (Skeet Ulrich), by tricking him into having sex with her and then throwing him out of a window.
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Mean Girls (2004)

When a Queen Bee is as unequivocally awful as Regina George (Rachel McAdams), it's understandable why people lower on the high school totem pole would dream of infiltrating her social circle and ruining her life. Cady (Lindsay Lohan), a new student who just emigrated from Africa, actually manages to do it.

The ultimate revenge scene: Cady persuades Regina to eat many, many Kalteen bars, which she swears are a weight loss aid. In actuality, Cady's mom used to feed these bars to malnourished children in Africa. They're calorie-rich and make Regina gain weight. Regina, naturally, freaks out when she finds out the truth.
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John Tucker Must Die (2006)

John Tucker (Jesse Metcalf) chose his girlfriends wisely. Situated squarely in different cliques, Carrie (Arielle Kebbel), Heather (Ashanti), and Beth (Sophia Bush) never would have come in contact — and thus never would have learned they were all dating the same guy — if it hadn't been for their new friendship with Kate (Brittany Snow). In retaliation for breaking their hearts, the women develop a plan to get back at John Tucker. They're going to make him fall in love with Kate — then they're going to take that love away.

The ultimate revenge scene: The best revenge scene occurs when the four girls decide it's far more productive to beam their anger in one direction instead of being angry at one another. That's teamwork.
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Jennifer's Body (2009)

All right, all right — technically it's possession by a demon, not an overzealous sense of justice, that makes Jennifer (Megan Fox) go on that killing spree. But there's something satisfying in seeing a young women exercise her power. Jennifer uses her conventional attractiveness as a trap. She is the venus flytrap of the heteronormative dating scene. Watch her go.

The ultimate revenge scene: Needy (Amanda Seyfried), Jennifer's best friend, obtains some of her demonic abilities and slays the heinous men who got Jennifer entangled in this demonic situation to begin with.
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Hanna (2011)

Hanna is a teen vengeance movie set outside the confines of a high school. In fact, it's set outside of typical society entirely. 15-year-old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) grew up in rural Finland with her fugitive CIA father (Eric Bana), who had one goal in mind while raising Hanna: Train her to be an assassin, and train her to kill his enemies.

The ultimate revenge scene: Eventually, Hanna does exactly what she's told.
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The Beguiled (2017)

The Civil War intrudes on the tenuous idyll of a girl's boarding school in Virginia after a Union soldier and deserter (Colin Farrell) seeks refuge in their mansion. With the presence of a man in the house — a dashing man, at that — the women start rebelling against their headmistress and competing for his attention.

The ultimate revenge scene: The revenge in The Beguiled goes in two directions. The women band together to punish their interloper. But before that, they rebel against Miss Martha Farmsworth (Nicole Kidman), who governs over the school with a thirst for authority. Edwina (Kirsten Dunst) and Alicia's (Elle Fanning) escapades with the soldier are acts of revenge against Martha's cloying grasp.
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Photo: Courtesy of Neon.
Assassination Nation (2018)

All hell breaks loose about half an hour into Assassination Nation, when an anonymous hacker unloads the contents of half the town's phones onto the internet. People's facades of respectability crumble, and so to does the town's sense of order. Lily (Odessa Young), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Bex (Hari Nef), and Em (Abra) are caught in the middle of the crossfire.

The ultimate revenge scene: Assassination Nation culminates in a bloody showdown between two contingents of high schoolers. There are the brawny athletes made powerful by their possession of firearms, and Lily and her friends, made powerful by surviving awful experiences. You'll have to watch to see who wins, but we bet you can guess.
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