In A Violent Nature Review

We’ve all thought to ourselves while watching a movie like Friday the 13th or Halloween: “what would this be like from the killer’s perspective?” Well, In A Violent Nature, Director/Writer Chris Nash looks to answer that question. Albeit, in a degree that seemingly fits and doesn’t fit the slasher genre. That might sound confusing, but trust me, it’ll make sense. The story of the film is pretty stock, it doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel because the premise of the film does that. Two campers steal a locket from a collapsed fire tower in the woods. It turns out that the fire tower wreckage is the tomb of Johnny, a rotting hulk of a man who was wrongfully killed 60 years ago. He reanimates, and we’re off.

Going into the film, hearing about the gore, the premise, and everything else, you might feel like In A Violent Nature goes one way, think a sort of parody of the genre or poking fun at it. No. It doesn’t do that. It takes itself quite seriously and that shows with the kills, the story, and the performances. The scenes where Johnny is stalking people, brutalizing them, and then the aftermath are where the film shines. However, the finale of the film takes a step that might turn off viewers. None of the characters outside of Johnny really get any development, and that’s on purpose. They’re ancillary speed bumps that are specifically written for Johnny to absolutely destroy. Even the character that has a backstory with Johnny, The Ranger, gets dispatched with lethal force and then comically dragged around, paralyzed.

A Strange Mix Of Styles That Somehow Works

Where the film truly feels scary is not when Johnny stalks people or even when Johnny is on screen, but when people are telling stories. Whether that’s the campers telling Johnny’s story around the fire or a woman telling the story about how her brother was mauled by a bear, the force of nature comparisons between Johnny and a bear are apt.

Now, let’s get to where most horror fans are going to geek out about In A Violent Nature: the kills. Johnny channels his inner slasher villain with some of the brutality that he dispatches throughout the film. Strangely, his most brutal kills are not reserved for the finale of the film, but most come in the beginning. People get hooks driven through them, bent backward, smashed, limbs severed, heads cut off, bodies mangled; all the while, you’re getting arthouse cinematography of the highest order.

This movie knows exactly what came before it, but instead of lampooning the genre in a way that Scream might do, it doubles down and says “no, I know I’m a slasher movie, but I’m not going to let you know that I know that.” There are cliches, but it doesn’t point a giant neon sign at them.

In A Violent Nature Still Has Some Missteps

There are a couple of spots in the film that have some strange editing choices, like frames not going back to the exact spot that they were at. The ending of the film does feel a bit anti-climactic depending on how you want to see Johnny. Is he truly a force of nature? Are all the characters wrong in their assumptions that just giving the locket back makes it all right? That’s where watching the film multiple times comes in. This does feel like a film that’ll be watched by people expecting a new version of Friday the 13th. Some will be disappointed that it’s really the arthouse slasher film that we’ve never really had. Some will find it a rewarding experience that adds to the genre overall.

Where do I fall on that spectrum? The cinematography is beautiful. If you like long shots of the woods that are framed beautifully, this movie is for you. The kills are violent and bloody, reminiscent of the power that slasher villains have sort of lacked in recent years. In A Violent Nature, it almost feels like it was better as an idea than in execution, and there could have been something quite different done with this idea.

The movie we get, though, is still an excellent exercise in horror filmmaking. In A Violent Nature might not be for everyone, but this is a film worth watching and then rewatching.

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