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In a Violent Nature Film Review: Gnarly Gore

A man wears a creepy mask and is about to strike someone with an exa in Chris Nash’s film IN A VIOLENT NATURE

In a Violent Nature promises an intense, blood-rich gore fest for anyone who dares sit down and witness Chris Nash’s distinctively deranged debut feature. 

Director: Chris Nash
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Run Time: 94′
US Release: May 31, 2024
UK & Irish Release: July 12, 2024
Where to watch: in theaters

In a Violent Nature is an innovative take on the beloved slasher genre. We follow a disturbing rotting-corpse killer, Johnny (Ry Barrett), who has been dead underground for 60 years, as he begins his mission to seek retribution after a pendant is stolen that hangs above his grave. The only clue to who the thief is a male voice that slowly fades out into the distance as he walks away.

It’s an unusual opening having no characters introduced, with merely two voices from behind where the camera is positioned. All we see are tree branches out of focus, until the camera pans to see the pendant being snatched away.

Johnny trudges through the woodlands, reminiscent of those in the original The Evil Dead, and we follow closely behind him, just watching him walk as if we’re controlling a character in a video game. Almost all of the shots are from the back of his head as he walks somewhere or spies on his prey. We’re put right into the action from his perspective. It’s confusing at times, though, as there are some establishing shots that show the woods from a different angle. This changes the perspective completely as we’re no longer viewing the world from the killer’s eyes. In a Violent Nature is definitely a new, refreshing take on the slasher genre but it needs to consistently follow the killer if it’s always meant to be from his view.  

With vengeance on his mind, everyone who stands in Johnny’s way from retrieving his pendant will be dealt with, in as violent a nature as possible. Unfortunately, the group of teens setting up camp for the night have timed their trip very wrong. Reports of someone throwing up during Chicago Critics Film Festival at the beginning of May gave an expectation of the kills being gruesome from the get-go. But they increasingly get more explicit. When Johnny is in full swing, though, he really goes for it. He would definitely love Art the Clown from the Terrifier franchise as they’re both characters who waste no time in killing their prey, spilling as much guts and blood as they possibly can. As the teens, who are barely introduced, tell the typical scary campfire stories, Johnny watches on from behind the trees, camouflaged head-to-toe in brown so no one notices he’s there.

A man wears a creepy mask and uniform and pulls on a chain with bloody hands in Chris Nash’s film IN A VIOLENT NATURE
Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in Chris Nash’s IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

Director-writer Chris Nash wanted to create something archetypal but in a different way to what we’ve seen before. It’s very Cabin in the Woods-esque, with one of the characters desperate to get laid, one needing to be smoking at any given moment, and a dark horse final girl. We’re not given much time to get accustomed with everyone, with some of the teens barely speaking a word. With the lack of introduction to each of the characters, it’s hard to know who to root for. Johnny’s character is the only one we really get to spend any time with. I guess that’s the exact point of the film, though, turning the slasher genre into something fresh where the teens are unknowns and not someone to draw an alliance with. In the limited conversations we hear with the friends, we can at least tell who the leaders of the batch are, and who are perhaps the underdogs.

As the killer begins to wipe them out one by one, I found myself more focused on the unique ways Johnny was killing them than hoping for survivors. Maybe in the day and age of constant sequels with final girls living on to do five more movies, where every conversation has the audience front and centre so we become enamoured with their lives, spinning the genre slightly doesn’t leave you enjoying it as much as what we’re used to. It definitely merits praise for the eccentric, ghastly kills seen throughout, though. Anyone who loves Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th will undoubtedly have fun with In a Violent Nature.

In a Violent Nature will be released in US theaters on May 31, 2024 and in UK & Irish cinemas on July 12, 2024. A special preview of the film will also take place at Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema on July 11, in celebration of the launch of this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival programme.

In a Violent Nature: Trailer (IFC Films)
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