Movie review: ‘In a Violent Nature’

Chris Nash gives us a unique perspective on the slasher-horror genre. Mild spoilers.

A poster for "In a Violent Nature." Photo courtesy of IFC Films Shudder.

Chris Nash made his directorial debut on May 31 with “In a Violent Nature,” the new horror film produced by IFC Films and Shudder. This film adheres to the stereotypical camp-slasher vibe that most horror films set in the woods have become accustomed to – with one small twist. “In a Violent Nature” is filmed almost entirely from behind the back of the killer and main antagonist of the film. 

The story began with a small group of college-aged kids making a reference to the massacre that had happened on the spot where they were standing. One of the characters spots a necklace dangling from a pipe that is stuck in the ground and decides to take it. 

Viewers quickly realize that this decision was a mistake. 

Taking the seemingly innocent necklace is the point where we see our antagonist emerge. The killer is awakened and we see him journey into the world in an effort to retrieve the necklace stolen from his grave – which turns out to be the only thing that holds his soul in place. 

If you find yourself thinking that this sounds just like every other horror film ever made, you would be correct. In terms of story building, there really is none throughout the film. 

The story that we as viewers get is passed onto us by a conversation that the killer overhears while he is stalking the young adults surrounding a campfire telling an urban legend story that happens to be about him. 

This is where we discover that our killer is named Johnny. Almost all of the lore surrounding Johnny comes from this “ghost story” around a campfire, which feels like an homage to the camp-horror classics of the 80s and 90s. However, this is the extent of everything that we learn about Johnny, and it is all that we really need to know as viewers because of the way that this movie is filmed. 

The third-person perspective is what sets this movie apart from any other in this genre. With our perspective as viewers being almost entirely from behind the back of Johnny, we are not given the opportunity to develop a connection to any of the people that he kills. We are simply along for the ride as he methodically eliminates everyone in his path to find the necklace that was stolen from him. 

“In a Violent Nature” is an incredibly gory film, which contains almost indescribable acts. Johnny is a self-aware zombie who only cares about mindless violence in the most gruesome ways possible. He seemingly hunts for sport. 

“In a Violent Nature” lives up to its title when it gets truly creative with the executions that are shown. This is not a film that will sit well with light stomachs and even features some scenes that may stick with even the most grizzled horror-film watchers. It gets extremely violent, and then just when you think it’s as bad as it’s going to get, Nash pushes the envelope a bit further and makes the scene even more macabre. 

Another thing that sets this film apart is the sound design. For most of the film, almost all of the sound comes from birds or crickets and are accompanied by the slow crunching of footsteps coming from Johnny as he walks at a leisurely pace. 

Other than the natural silence that occurs, viewers experience sections where they hear conversations or music in the distance. It is important to note that the music selection, although brief, is good – and fits the camp-horror vibe. 

The ambient sounds, including music and conversations, help viewers distance themselves from anything that Johnny is not focusing on by simply existing as background noise. This helps viewers keep their focus on Johnny. Sudden loud noises in the midst of quiet and peaceful sounds shock viewers and emphasize the escalation of violent scenes. 

These quietly violent and audibly realistic scenes create a sense of unease. These heightened moments of sound can be attributed to car horns, generators and other heavy machinery. The sudden loud and unnatural noise for the first time can be a little bit of a jolt on your senses. 

The film can feel a bit slow as we follow Johnny’s footsteps as he walks his way from victim to victim at an easy and relaxed pace. Although, these slow scenes add a nice break from the incredible amount of violence that we ultimately see when the killer catches up to each victim. 

Towards the end of the film the camera angle switches to follow the back of one of the survivors. With the camera switch, the audio also changes drastically to emphasize the paranoia caused within the surviving victim. 

The interesting change in perspective allows the viewer to directly feel the anxiety that the victim feels. The film holds the anxiety-inducing perspective on the victim long past where any other film would roll the credits, until it becomes incredibly tense and uneasy to watch. 

This is the only scene in the entire movie where tension is felt, and it is done quite well. Especially once the survivor makes it out of the woods and into a car that serves as the first symbol of safety for the character. In the car, with a kind stranger, viewers are filled with an incredible sense of dread for this long segment of “peace” to imitate what it is like to survive something so horrific. 

The ending is ambiguous, creepy, and uneasy – it is sure to please some horror fans who would otherwise be unhappy with the lack of horror or scares throughout the film. 

Overall, “In a Violent Nature” is for viewers who get annoyed by pesky things like character development and plot building. It is perfect for those who want to see carnage. 

The unique perspective while watching everything unfold is a neat experience. However, it detracts from the scary nature of a horror film. If you like gore, this is a good way to kill an hour and a half, literally. If you enjoy cinematography and sound design, this film is best viewed in theaters or with headphones at home once it finally releases to streaming services.

No items found.