In a Violent Nature (2024) Review

In a Violent Nature (2024) Review

In a Violent Nature (2024)
Director: Chris Nash
Screenwriter: Chris Nash
Starring: Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Charlotte Creaghan, Cameron Love, Liam Leone, Alexander Oliver, Reece Presley

In the realm of the slasher genre, Chris Nash’s In a Violent Nature checks every theoretical box: a masked killer on a revenge rampage, an isolated setting, questioning morality and sexuality, and lots of gory kill scenes. Of course, there is also the final girl. While paying homage to the classic slasher tropes, the narrative structure of In a Violent Nature leads it to diverge from other films of the genre. Friday the 13th, Scream, and The Burning (to name just a few) are all centered around young adults struggling to survive the attacks of a merciless killer. This plotline does exist in Nash’s film, but the group of friends are not the protagonists of the story.

In a Violent Nature plays out from a third person perspective of the undead, vengeance-driven Johnny (Ry Barrett). The group he victimizes is shown from a distant and voyeuristic point of view. Conversations that the friends have are often heard rather than seen. We do not get to know them, or form any kind of emotional connection to them, before they are killed. They are simply Johnny’s prey. The camera tracks Johnny on the vicious hunt – forcing the viewer to pay close attention to his every movement. Through the sound design, focus is particularly drawn to his footsteps. At first, Johnny tromps slowly through the dense forest and each step feels heavy. This meandering pace and minimalist cinematography clearly draws inspiration from the works of Terrence Malick and Gus van Sant, as cited by Chris Nash.

Johnny’s physicality sets the momentum for the film. After the first couple of kills, he becomes quicker, more confident, more angry. The camera moves faster behind Johnny as he strides through the trees. This relentless forward movement establishes Johnny as a force that cannot be stopped. In moments that are most significant to Johnny on an “emotional” level (if it could be considered that), the audiovisual editing slows to an almost excruciating pace. We have no choice but to endure the cold, methodical violence he enacts. The relationship between the camera and the protagonist in In a Violent Nature is at times similar to that of Angst (1983). While Angst delves deeper into the psychology of a killer, the camerawork of both films is tailored to create a sense of uncomfortable physical proximity to a violent individual.

The scale and unique depravity of Johnny’s carnage will surely be satisfying to horror fans. With the incredible practical effects, there is also a level of humor to some of the kill scenes helping to keep the tone of the film engaging. The absurdity of the violence and comical stupidity of the college friends is balanced against the somber ambience of the forest. For the most part, this dichotomy is effective. In a Violent Nature’s greatest weakness, however, is a lack of trust in its audience. There are moments of expository explanation, especially in terms of Johnny’s backstory, and visual callbacks to previous scenes that feel heavy-handed and unnecessary. The film at times seems to be stuck between a complete deconstruction of the slasher genre and a half-baked pastiche of its tropes. It simultaneously reaches for the unserious dynamics of Cabin in the Woods (2011) and the eerie, haunting atmosphere of Elephant (2003). However, it fails to fully achieve either of these extremes. In a Violent Nature ultimately seeks to emotionally distance and frustrate viewers, but not to the point that it is commercially unmarketable.

Though Nash does not commit fully to the more arthouse, slow-paced aesthetics, the scenes where he does are truly outstanding. The more meditative last fifteen minutes of In a Violent Nature give a new perspective to the film. Instead of solely focusing on the outlandish rampage of a masked killer, the audience is asked to question the sadistic tendencies that can exist in all of us. Perhaps it is something that is innate to humanity, or maybe it is exacerbated by one’s environment. The way the film connects the human psyche to the hostility and mystery of nature is reminiscent of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009). Antichrist presents nature as “Satan’s Church,” a theme that can be connected to the landscape of In a Violent Nature. The realm of the forest is entirely inescapable for the characters, both in life and death. They are inextricably linked to the land.

Even if not entirely hitting the mark, Chris Nash’s visual and conceptual aspirations, as well as technical execution, are certainly admirable. In a Violent Nature is an immersive experience, from its creative gore to its dynamic soundscape, and definitely worth seeing in a theater setting.

Score: 15/24

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Written by Lauren Frison

You can support Lauren Frison in the following places:

X (Twitter): @paranoidzpark
Letterboxd: /suspiriaz

Scroll to Top