ASSASSINATION NATION: Extreme, over the top satire always runs the risk of being taken way too seriously to the detriment of its’ parody. Heck, when some people read Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, they were convinced of the sincerity of his suggestion that poor Irish sell their children to be eaten by the upper classes. The often anti-social nature of social media gets this wretchedly excessive treatment in director Sam Levinson’s (ANOTHER HAPPY DAY) screenplay about a high school senior (Odessa Young) and her three friends (Abra, Hari Nef, Suki Waterhouse) who become the targets of the townspeople’s homicidal rage in the appropriately named city of Salem when they’re falsely accused of peppering social media posts with extortion worthy photos and secrets of prominent persons and fellow students. How they reach that point where they become scapegoats isn’t ever really made clear owing to faults in the story’s structure even though it does make some telling points about the lynch mob mentality that lies beneath the surface of the digital world. The seemingly improvisational stream of consciousness dialogue with split screens that fill the initial scenes in the movie has the feel of one of those ill-fated, self-indulgent experimental works a la Steven Soderbergh’s FULL FRONTAL (2002). The nihilistic violence instigated by masked vigilantes during the climax had the look of a PURGE movie which doesn’t say a lot for its originality despite its audaciousness. Ian Hultquist’s original music is just that…original and near perfect for the digital age setting. Credible performances are turned in by newcomer Young who gives the latest portrayal of disaffected youth as well as from transgender model Nef who is alternately tough as well as touching and totally believable in both modes. But when the smoke clears after our heroines have become transformed into red raincoat wearing avenging angels who have righted the wrongs against them amidst much carnage, one can’t help but wonder just what the predominant theme of this movie really is. Is it an oversimplified idea that social media is responsible for the decline of Western civilization as we know it? Is it a commentary on the divisive times we live in? Is it a rallying cry to take back our sense of privacy in a time when millenials have relinquished theirs by putting out all aspects of their lives in the digital landscape? But at the conclusion when the blackmailing hacker is revealed and he says “I did it for the LOLs”, a line that was written to leave an impact upon the viewer has the unintended effect of trivializing any theme or message that the inherent satire attempted to convey. CRITIC’S GRADE: C+