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'In a Violent Nature' Review

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May 28, 2024
Tyler Banark
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For the second time this year, Shudder has unleashed a horror film that is making waves and igniting discussions among moviegoers. Two months ago, it was Late Night with the Devil, a film that injected a fresh twist into the found footage subgenre. Now they’re bringing In a Violent Nature, a horror film not for the faint-hearted. It's a thrilling ride, uniquely told from the killer's perspective.

Meditative is a word I would not normally use to describe a horror movie, but In a Violent Nature has a meditative quality. Director Chris Nash penned a script that reflects this method, instilling a tragic backstory to a killer who knows nothing but death. Supposedly named Johnny, he fell victim to a terrible accident, leaving him stranded beneath the ground with only a makeshift breathing tube to sustain him. When a locket is stolen from the tower he’s buried under, Johnny emerges from the ground and goes on a rampage to get it back.

As the plot unfolds, the movie gets to the gritty kills as Nash and DP Pierce Derks heavily use long-tracking shots to set up the scene. They usually consist of Johnny slowly creeping up to his next victim(s) as they talk about his urban legend in some form or another. It’s a decent way to build suspense and have audiences guessing where’s Johnny (no pun intended). Many of the faces of the victims remain obscured, an initially odd choice that over time illustrates itself as a way to communicate Johnny’s dehumanization of these people. The kills make this into one of the bloodiest splatter fests I have seen in a while, almost to the point where some viewers may regret having an appetite during or after watching. 

Outside of the cinematography, In a Violent Nature’s methodical aura is also felt in its pacing, which is no surprise. Although the movie clocks in at 94 minutes, it’s in no rush to have the plot go from point A to point B. In one instance, we see a group of campers sharing stories around a campfire. As one of them shares a story correlating to Johnny, it’s all told in an uninterrupted take with a circling shot of the group sitting around the fire. While it’s an auteurist approach (Nash says Terrence Malick is an influence), the film does get carried away in the act and intermittently tests patience.

In a Violent Nature is brutal in its scares and pacing, both of which prove to be its best and worst elements. Time will tell if this is able to break out into the culture, or remain an underground feature for the horror-centric service. Hopefully, there will be further conversation and attempts at brutal stories told from the perspective of evil. How will that all pan out, you may ask? Who knows, but heads may roll nevertheless.

You can follow Tyler and hear more of his thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd.

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