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In a Violent Nature (2024) Review

In a Violent Nature begins with a conversation between two unseen men as they walk through a deserted and crumbling shack in the forest. One of them takes a locket they find there, and that’s when the trouble starts. A hulking, Jason Voorhees like figure emerges from the ground and begins to trudge after them. Seemingly confused by the sound of automobiles in the distance, the silent figure stops as if to ponder the rotting corpse of an animal caught in a steel trap, fittingly his first victim will be the poacher who set them, after he catches himself in one.

Sitting around a campfire that night, Ehren (Sam Roulston, Carbon Copy, The Beaverton Digital) tells his friends the story of a young boy named Johnny who fell to his death from a fire tower after a prank went wrong. His father suspecting foul play confronted those responsible and was killed, is killer claimed self-defence and the logging company that owned everything around them covered it up. A week later, the loggers were found dead, torn to pieces.

The now anything but child sized Johnny (Ry Barrett, The Final Ride, The Heretics) shows his appreciation by slicing his head in half with a hacksaw later that night.

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In a Violent Nature is the first feature from writer/director Chris Nash, although he’s no stranger to the genre, he was responsible for the Z is for Zygote segment of The ABCs of Death 2, has effects and makeup credits on films like Psycho Goreman and Lifechanger as well as playing one of the creatures in The Void.

He’s not out to simply make a bloody slasher film, though. Citing the influence of Slow Cinema, Gus Van Sant and his “Death Trilogy” as well as Terrence Malick, he’s made an odd fusion of art film and splatter movie that doesn’t always work, but is quite impressive when it does. Much of that is due to Nash having cinematographer Pierce Derks (Teddy Bomb, Mandy) shoot the majority of the film not from the killer’s POV is in many slashers, but from a few steps behind him. It’s as though the viewer is a trainee villain shadowing and observing their mentor.

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The downside of this is that in between the kills, In a Violent Nature can get rather tedious as, rather than seeing the victims to be party, fool around or run for their lives we plod silently through the woods with a killer who makes Michael Myers look like The Flash. It also means that the characters are extremely underdeveloped, even for a genre known for poor characterization.

Of course, it’s not the filmmaker’s style that created the buzz attached to this film but the outrageously gory kills. And those too are a mixed bag. There are some off-screen deaths and a couple that are rather bland, such as when he walks unseen across the bottom of a lake to drown a swimmer.

But there are several that will make viewers sit up and squirm in their seats. I’ve already mentioned the death by hacksaw, and the most talked about death scene, dubbed the “Yoga Kill”, where he uses a pair of hooks used for dragging felled trees on his victim, more than lives up to the hype. There’s another involving a large boulder and someone’s head that’s deserving of a mention as well. The effects and makeup teams consisted of nearly twenty people, and it’s easy to see why. They are In a Violent Nature’s real stars.

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Unfortunately, Nash plays with viewers’ expectations for how a slasher film should work one time too many. Instead of going out on what we hope will be a brutal final showdown, it just sort of fizzles out and limps to the end credits. It’s a major letdown, especially after two well staged kills in the final act.

In the end, In a Violent Nature is a bit of a disappointment, although it would be hard for any film to live up to the hype it got. It’s worth a watch, although those who don’t want to take a chance on Nash’s fusing of art house and slaughterhouse may want to wait until it arrives on Shudder.

IFC Films released In a Violent Nature to theatres last month, and it is currently available on VOD and Digital Platforms. It will be available on Shudder later this year.

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