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Movie Review: In a Violent Nature

In a Violent Nature. Title card.


“Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way.” - C.S. Lewis

I for one have never wondered what the psycho killer in a scary movie is thinking when they’re decapitating their latest college student or when they’re lurking in the shadows like the giant creepers they are. I always figured beyond who they intended to kill next, it was a bit of an empty vessel. I imagine if you shook their head it would sound like an empty paint can, nothing but a ball bearing pinging around. Personally, and this is just me, I never really thought about what it would be like if Jason Voorhees had a pensive side but apparently writer/director Chris Nash went the other way with it. 

Johnny stalking his next victim. In a Violent Nature.

What if a horror movie was predominantly quiet? Aside from the occasional horrified scream or the squelching of a blade repeatedly violating human flesh, what if the sound most common was birds chirping or wind drifting among trees of an isolated forest? A sort of juxtaposition to the manic horridness of murder as nature simply… carries on. I never would have guessed that something as innocuous as leaves crunching beneath someone’s footsteps could create so much anticipation or dread. But as the singularly focused villain unwaveringly propels forward his steps bring with them the knowledge that mayhem is his ultimate tool, that and some seriously twisted metallicly inclined accessories. 

As with most horror stories, lore is a major aspect to the ensuing chaos. The chaos is guaranteed otherwise we wouldn’t be watching. The lore is the reason behind it all, the overarching motivation if you will. In a Violent Nature, Johnny is an entombed body whose vengeful spirit has been disturbed by meddlesome young people who have stolen his locket and as a result he becomes an unstoppable force determined to retrieve what is rightfully his.

Johnny the killer without a mask. In a Violent Nature.

Much of this story is quiet, as we follow Johnny on his quest to find the missing piece of his mythos. We reside behind him on a gimbal handheld gliding along as he stalks his next victim. The most surprising part of watching from the perspective of the killer is seeing just how calculated he is. He watches and yes it’s unnerving but more than that it’s his rotted corpse still managing to plan its greatest chances of success. In this case, success just happens to be brutal murder. Hey, we all have goals in life, Johnny is no different. Well, maybe a little different. But I digress. Much to my surprise as well, the perspective of Johnny allows you to, in a way, sympathize with him and why he’s suddenly alive and walking the earth despite being murdered sixty years prior. His brutality manages to keep away any true understanding of him but the idea of righting a wrong, a violation committed against us, is a relatable, human experience. This is putting aside the fact that he’s been dead for decades. Details…

An innocent girl about to meet her demise. In a Violent Nature.

The greatest shock moments come in the contrast of pristine nature as it resides undisturbed even as some poor soul is being massacred. It’s in the moments after something so horrific occurs and nothing happens as a result. The killer walks away and the lifeless corpse remains likely undiscovered for a long time. Like a rock tumbling down a hill, it momentarily unsettles its immediate surroundings only for things to suddenly settle once again as if it was always that way. You would never be able to tell that a rock just altered its environment. As he leaves behind bodies, they’re crumpled up and tossed like a rock in a forest, disturbing the immediate area only to return to its original, quiet and pristine state. The clash of quiet and drastic violence somehow is made to feel natural and there’s something very wrong with that I think. 

As for the violence itself, this is as raw and unforgiving as it gets. Using practical effects and makeup, the brutality is brought to life in graphic detail. These are some of the most creative, gut-wrenching kills you’ll likely ever see in any movie. After decades of watching countless violent horror movies, this left even a seasoned veteran like myself a bit rattled. If you can sit through the quietness, the moments of savagery are more than satiating. Jason, eat your heart out, little boy. This is the big leagues of murderers’ row.

Johnny the killer with a mask. In a Violent Nature.

At times the slow pace can drag a bit. Sometimes you just want the story to set aside its contemplative mentality and fucking kill something already. But the stillness of the forest and the unstoppable force that is the killer, both similarly compliment one another in a weird way and in different moments that symbiosis is shattered by his insatiable desire to kill those who crossed him. It’s a constant buildup to moments of pure barbarism that really drive home the violating quality of what he’s doing and in a place so pure no less. The beauty of nature is captured regularly on camera, sought after by those destined to meet the dangerous end of the killer’s toolset. It’s in these gorgeous, scenic environments that really set such unnatural cruelty in a place of reality making the violence so much more intense. You feel as if you could visit these places but then when you see the inhumanity taking place, it leaves you feeling a bit uncomfortable. 

Johnny finds the one thing he didn't kill. In a Violent Nature.

In a Violent Nature isn’t for everyone but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t catch my attention for its entire runtime. I enjoyed the quiet aspects knowing the lurking danger was imminent and exacting. The kills are plentiful and wonderfully deranged utilizing entirely in-camera effects creating a visceral, unrelenting and somehow equally reflective experience. An homage to the thrillers that came before it, this is a sort of behind-the-scenes approach to fictional campfire stories. 

Johnny going in for the kill. In a Violent Nature.

Unrated. It does feature: extreme, bloody and gory violence, sexual situations, language, frightening and intense imagery

Runtime: 94 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller

Starring: Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Charlotte Creaghan

Directed By: Chris Nash

Out of 10

Story: 8/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 8.5/ Visuals: 8


Buy to Own: Yes


Check out the trailer below:


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