The HoloFiles

REVIEW: In a Violent Nature

By George & Josh Bate

In a violent nature review

Imagine Friday the 13th, but, rather from the perspective of a group of camp counselors, the film adopts the perspective of Jason Voorhees. Or imagine Halloween, but, rather from the perspective of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, it follows events through Michael Myers’ eyes. That’s the basic premise of In a Violent Nature, a slasher with a twist from writer/director Chris Nash in his feature directorial debut.

In a Violent Nature follows a deformed and hulking figure who mercilessly targets a group of teenagers in the wilderness after one of the teens steals something precious to him. Notably, this plot description could be copy and pasted from any number of 1980s slasher movies, in particular the Friday the 13th franchise. However, there’s a twist here. In the likes of an average Friday the 13th movie, Jason Voorhees appears periodically as he systematically kills one teen after another. Such films tell the story through the teens’ perspectives, who are largely unaware of the menacing man hunting them down.

In a violent nature review

In a Violent Nature alters the slasher formula by situating the killer front and center of the film. Much of Nash’s movie is spent ominously walking alongside the killer Johnny as he ruthlessly kills one person after another. The long tracking shot of Michael Myers killing people in Haddonfield in David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018), which can be seen here, perfectly captures the feel of In a Violent Nature. Like that scene, Nash’s movie allows the audience to have a front row seat for a slasher’s killing spree. The potential victims are scattered and out of focus in the background, while the audience is right beside the killer as he goes on his animalistic rampage. Except, unlike the several minutes-long scene in Halloween, In a Violent Nature maintains such a perspective for most of its 90 minute duration.

Further adding to the film adopting the perspective of the killer, almost all of the dialogue occurs off-screen as Johnny overhears characters speak from a distance. The killer’s backstory, which proves to be one of the film’s most fascinating elements, is intelligently delivered through such conversations that Johnny overhears. 

In a violent nature review

As a horror film, In a Violent Nature’s twist on the slasher genre makes for an effectively unnerving horror film. Unlike Friday the 13th or Halloween, In a Violent Nature is almost entirely absent of moments of levity. The prospective victims of Johnny’s are hardly characters, better described as unknowing prey for the stalking predator. In the absence of levity and with such a honed-in focus on the killer, Nash’s film can be described as unrelentingly disturbing. There’s something genuinely unsettling about watching a slasher from the perspective of the cold, animalistic slasher himself rather than people who one can root for to survive, which is clearly what writer/director Nash is going for. Coupling this with long, silent takes and no musical score, the movie unsettles in a manner few horror films do. 

However, what is a novel narrative experiment in conception proves to be less interesting when fully actualized. In a Violent Nature does not offer the kind of startlingly unique take on the slasher genre that the filmmakers likely intended. Admittedly, an effective slasher, but not one that rewrites the rules of the genre. Adopting the perspective of the killer, while interesting in conception, ultimately just makes for a slightly different, rather traditional slasher movie. At worst, the film drags with a meandering pace and mundanity to its proceedings, but, for the most part, it unfolds as an engaging slasher. 

And, as an engaging slasher and fitting to its title, In a Violent Nature features a host of brutal kills. Fans of the genre will relish in the gruesome deaths in Nash’s film, which are akin to the Terrifier films in terms of their brutality. 

Rather than being seen as a unique spin on the slasher genre, In a Violent Nature may be better characterized as a deliberate and methodical love letter to 1980s slashers. The film leans into most, if not all, of the tropes of the slasher genre, making it feel like a movie that would have fit perfectly into a the line-up of movies at a theater screening in 1988 with the likes of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. It’s the latter franchise that receives particular homage in In a Violent Nature, which, in the absence of Friday the 13th movies for a whopping 15 years, makes the film a refreshing and unofficial dip back into the waters of Crystal Lake.

In a violent nature review

Unfortunately, all of this culminates in a disappointing finale. After following the killer so closely for the entirety of the film, In a Violent Nature suddenly shifts its focus to another character’s perspective with little narrative justification. It seems as if the conclusion is building up to some plot twist when the film ends with such a twist and, instead, on a dissatisfying final note.

VERDICT: 7/10

More interesting in conception than execution, In a Violent Nature provides a spin on the slasher genre by adopting the perspective of the killer, rather than unsuspecting victims. Although this perspective does not foster the innovation for the slasher genre that the filmmakers were hoping for, it excels in producing a truly unsettling and disturbing horror film. Fans of the slasher genre looking for brutal kills will come away more than satisfied, despite a disappointing ending that abandons what makes In a Violent Nature somewhat unique in the first place. In a Violent Nature asks and answers the question, “What would a Friday the 13th movie be like from Jason’s perspective?” This question ends up being more interesting than its answer as the film turns out to be an effective, albeit indistinct, installment of the slasher genre.

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