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In A Violent Nature Review

May 31, 2024 | Posted by Joseph Lee
In A Violent Nature Image Credit: IFC Films
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In A Violent Nature Review  

* Ry Barrett as Johnny
* Andrea Pavlovic as Kris
* Cameron Love as Colt
* Reece Presley as The Ranger
* Liam Leone as Tony
* Charlotte Creaghan as Aurora
* Lea Rose Sebastianis as Brodie
* Sam Rolston as Ehren
* Alexander Oliver as Evan
* Lauren-Marie Taylor as The Woman
* Timothy Paul McCarthy as Chuck

Story: The enigmatic resurrection, rampage, and retribution of an undead monster in a remote wilderness unleashes an iconic new killer after a locket is removed from a collapsed fire tower that entombed its rotting corpse.

It seemed, for a time, that the slasher film was on its way out. After the boom that Scream caused in the 90s, followed by the trends of the remakes and the legacy sequels that came and went, there wasn’t many original slashers doing anything interesting. Sometimes you just want a stalk and kill type of movie with a high body count, but many other types of horror were getting made instead. However, as of late there has been a resurgence in new takes on the style. You had the Terrifier movies, X, the Fear Street trilogy and Thanksgiving all carving a place for the genre.

However for the most part, those movies were all throwbacks. Like the legacy sequels, they were still movies that were relying on a very specific formula and no one’s really tried to take that formula and do something new with it. That’s why I can appreciate a movie like In A Violent Nature, which is a new Friday the 13th movie in all but the IP, from the killer’s POV. What exactly does a slasher villain do in the moments when they’re not seen on screen? That’s the question this movie poses and it’s one I’m surprised hasn’t been done before.

We follow Johnny, a monster that has been resurrected when the trinket keeping him bound to his resting place is removed. It belonged to his mother and he wants it back. So he rises from the grave and starts walking through the woods to find it. We spend most of the film with Johnny, which is a daring move for a few reasons. First of all, he’s the killer. So the movie is already making us complicit in his actions. Second of all, Johnny doesn’t have a lot of personality. We’re following the Jason/Michael Myers model here, with only hints of his thought process.

This is an interesting way to go about it. Because there are victims here, several, and they all have terrible things done to them. But they aren’t given any character development. That’s kind of the point. All of their character development is happening in the other movie, the standard slasher movie, that’s going on in the background. We only get glimpses of it when Johnny is nearby, listening in. As such, the movie forces us to see Johnny’s victims like he sees them. They’re just bodies in his way, taking something that doesn’t belong to them.

The interesting thing is, you almost want to see the alternate movie that’s happening at the same time you’re with Johnny. Every time we come back to it, something has happened. There’s been a revelation in the group, or tensions have been rising. There’s a lot of world-building with a minimal effort, that feels like the characters have been going through their own story. However the only times we spend any significant time with them are during the requisite campfire scene where Johnny’s supernatural origin is told. Even then, voices are muffled and overlap because we are supposed to be hearing them from far away. That movie is following all the beats you expect it to. There’s even hints that the movie we’re watching is a sequel to some other movie we’ll never see.

It’s just a great way to turn the typical formula on its head. There are two movies happening here at once and we just happen to be in this one. And our time with Johnny isn’t just walking around in the woods. There are glimpses, however brief, into his psyche. There’s a hallucination, there’s even a bit of an emotional moment. Then he comes across a victim and we get to see how he really operates.

You may think that because we don’t spend time with the victims there is no suspense. You would be wrong. In this case, you know they’re going to die because Johnny’s getting closer. It’s just a matter of when. It’s dreading the inevitable. Like yeah, we know the typical teenager in Friday the 13th is going to die too, but we don’t see every agonizing moment as the killer slowly prepares them. One notable sequence is when Johnny enters a lake to take out someone, and there is a static shot of that lake. It never really zooms in or shows him underwater. We just see the person and the dread increases until the thing we know is going to happen happens.

Obviously, any slasher worth its weight is going to have notable kills, and this movie’s marketing hinted at some gnarly ones. I have good news for any interested: there indeed some disgusting moments here. The kills themselves start out simple, then get progressively grosser and more drawn-out. Almost as though Johnny wants to make his victims suffer for denying him his mother’s locket for so long. There is one kill that I could probably describe to you, but words can’t do it justice. It’s not the goriest, but definitely one of the most insane. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.

The only issue with In A Violent Nature, and this may prove to be the film’s most controversial aspect, is the final act. The slasher movie in the background ends and so our movie completely abandons its own format. It’s a risky move and the ending is somewhat ambiguous. While it didn’t hurt the film, in my opinion, I could definitely see it doing so for someone else. It’s a bold move at the very least.

If you have a chance to see this in a theater, you definitely should. It’s definitely a brisk watch at 94 minutes and it doesn’t really waste any time. Just the fact it’s doing something new, or doing something old in a fresh way, is enough to warrant at least one viewing. When you get there, you’ll find a well-shot, inventive and interesting slasher movie.

The final score: review Good
The 411
By focusing on the other half of a standard slasher movie, In A Violent Nature reinvents the wheel and gives audiences something new. There are some nasty kills here and an interesting, impressive take on the format. I don't know how you could pull off a sequel, but I want to see more of Johnny. At the very least, a version of this film that tells the story more conventionally would make for a nice companion piece. If you're into a cool killer and nasty kills, this one is for you.

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In a Violent Nature, Joseph Lee