In a Violent Nature Gives Us a New Perspective on Horror

Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in Chris Nash’s IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

Have you ever wondered what Jason Vorhees does when he’s not chopping up hapless camp counselors? Or what Freddy Krueger does when the Elm Street children are awake? If you answered yes to those questions, you can understand why I was so intrigued by In a Violent Nature. I’m admittedly not a huge slasher fan, but this film promised to upend the typical slice-and-dice formula in a way we had never seen before.

Unlike just about every horror movie ever made, this one tells its story from the killer’s point of view, so I was sure it would give us an almost Behind the Mask-esque glimpse into the more mundane parts of a slasher villain’s daily life. On top of that, the early reviews from the film’s festival run (including one from our own Sean Parker) were absolutely glowing, and that combination was enough to overcome my general dislike of the subgenre. I just needed to see this movie for myself, so when I got the chance to review it, I jumped on it as soon as I could.

In a Violent Nature was written and directed by Chris Nash, and it stars Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Reece Presley, Liam Leone, Charlotte Creaghan, Lea Rose Sebastianis, Sam Roulston, Alexander Oliver, and Lauren Taylor. In the film, a group of young adults are vacationing at a typical cabin in the woods, and during their time there, one of them removes a locket from a collapsed fire tower.

On the surface, this seems like a bit of harmless pilfering, but as you can probably guess, it turns out to be the worst mistake of the guy’s life. He unknowingly awakens a Jason Vorhees-esque supernatural killer named Johnny from his slumber, and this revenant is dead-set on getting the locket back, no matter how many people he has to kill.

A killer about to strike
Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in Chris Nash’s IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

To answer the question I posed at the beginning of this review, when Johnny isn’t actively going after his victims, he’s usually just walking. Seriously, In a Violent Nature has several decent-sized stretches where Johnny is just walking through the woods by himself, and while some viewers might find those scenes boring, I actually thought they were the best parts of the movie.

Johnny walks at a slow but steady pace, and since In a Violent Nature doesn’t have a score, the only sounds we hear in these scenes are the birds and the killer’s almost metronomic footsteps. Your mileage may vary, but I found that combination just about hypnotic, and when you factor in the gorgeous forest visuals, those moments became genuinely captivating.

They add a great arthouse touch to this film, but unfortunately, just about everything else in In a Violent Nature is standard slasher fare. Take the characters, for example. Since this story is told primarily from Johnny’s perspective, we never really get to know his victims. They feel like the typical cannon fodder we’ve come to expect from this subgenre, and that lack of connection saps their deaths of any emotional impact they might’ve had.

They’re just cool kills, so your reaction to them is going to depend entirely on what kind of horror fan you are. If you’re the kind of fan who enjoys seeing slashers murder their victims in the most creative ways possible, you’re probably going to love these deaths. Most of them are chock-full of blood and gore, and two in particular stood out to me as especially inventive. I’m not going to spoil the grisly details, but I will say that one of these scenes takes a slow, almost arthouse approach, and the other is so over the top I’m not even sure it’s anatomically possible.

A killer close up
Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in Chris Nash ’s IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

However, if you’re like me, you probably won’t get much out of these kills. See, I generally prefer brutality over creativity, so I tend to gravitate more towards movies like Halloween Kills, where Michael Myers gets the job done with the kind of cold-hearted efficiency that barely wastes a second. In contrast, the deaths in In a Violent Nature are just a bit too flashy for me, and there are even a few times when it almost feels like Johnny is performing for an audience rather than going on a true rampage.

That being said, not all of Johnny’s kills are like that. Two of them take a much more subdued approach, and as a fan of subtle horror, I really enjoyed those moments. One of them uses some slick camerawork to connect the unseen kill to something Johnny does immediately afterwards, and the other uses water to evoke an almost Lovecraftian sense of unknown terrors hiding in the depths.

Those were hands down my two favorite deaths in the entire film, and along with the arthouse touches, they helped elevate In a Violent Nature just enough that I did genuinely enjoy the experience. But just barely. This movie isn’t nearly as unique as I expected it to be, so if you’re not a huge slasher fan, I’d give it a cautious recommendation. If you weren’t already interested in it, or if my description of the kills didn’t grab you, you’re probably better off giving this film a pass.

But if slashers are your thing, you’d do well to give In a Violent Nature a watch. You’ll probably get a real kick out of the kills and the novelty of following the killer’s perspective, so I can even see this becoming a legit cult classic among fans of the subgenre.

In a Violent Nature is set to release exclusively in theaters on May 31.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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