In A Violent Nature Delivers Both Brutal Blood and Slow Burn Horror (Review)

Warning: This review of In a Violent Nature contains light spoilers for the film.

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The idea behind the upcoming slasher film In a Violent Nature, from writer/director Chris Nash, is not wholly original. It is a horror film from the killer’s perspective, which, while uncommon isn’t unheard of. However, never has the idea been more fully committed to and in such a brutally deliberate manner.

To describe the plot of the film is to do it an injustice considering its entire concept is to take the tropes of the slasher genre and present them in a way we haven’t seen before. A group of 20-somethings steal a locket from an old fire watch tower in the woods, awakening Johnny (Ry Barrett), a fire-mask-wearing killer along the lines of Jason Vorhees who wields an axe and two hooks attached to chains. Bloody, gory, grotesque death ensues as Johnny goes on a killing spree in an attempt to get the locket, which was his mother’s, back. It is, story-wise, one of the most basic slashers you could ever watch.

In A Violent Nature doesn’t play with these tropes either. It isn’t here to poke fun or twist them into something new but instead to present them in a way that’s totally different. We are, for the most part, stuck with the entirely silent Johnny throughout the movie, either following him as he trudges through the woods or watching him brutally murder someone. The plot, then, plays out without us as we only pick up on the cliche snippets when Johnny is near his next victim. That makes this one of the best studies of the genre there’s been in a long while as audiences easily pick up on story points they weren’t present for simply because they’ve seen them so often. We all know these characters so when we come in on a conversation halfway through we can fill in the story, leaving the movie to quietly ruminate or cover the screen in blood.

The idea of the film being from Johnny’s perspective is taken further than just following him around with the camera. Shot entirely in 4:3, as you’d watch old VHS copies of slasher films, the film removes almost every other form of horror tactic for brutally paired-down presentation. There is no score to the movie and all sound is ambient, forcing an almost meditative nature to the film. Voices seem disconnected from the people speaking them and the camera is often placed in a distant, stationary place from the main action, creating a slasher film that’s shot like some sort of Terrance Malick movie. It can be truly scary but not in the traditional sense of a horror/slasher where you jump from shock. It’s the kind of horror that stays with you as you try to go to sleep.

That does not mean, however, that the film isn’t a bloody gore fest. It is, in fact, one of the gorier slashers I’ve seen in a long time or… at least it feels like it. The lack of score means every bone-crunching, gore-filled kill is elevated to an almost disgusting level with nauseating sound design. Long, extended shots of Johnny simply walking through the woods as we follow him ratchet up tension like none other. The camera’s stillness during murders means we often watch them with unrelenting remorse that makes you squirm. Yet the film also understands that sometimes less is more. There are cutaways, off-screen kills, and bloodless murders that feel just as disturbing or awesome as the over-the-top murders. It is a true smorgasbord of death presented in a way we’ve never seen.

In A Violent Nature is, without a doubt, the most cliche of cliche slasher films but that is its entire point. It delivers these tropes with no apology, reveling in them from a perspective and style that breathes new life. This is the rare slasher film that delivers both the blood-curdling kills and the kind of slow-burn horror that infests your dreams.

In A Violent Nature releases in theaters on May 31.

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Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is a News Writer and film aficionado at Escapist. He has been writing for Escapist for nearly five years and has nearly 20 years of experience reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and video games for both print and online outlets. He has a degree in Film from Vassar College and a degree in gaming from growing up in the '80s and '90s. He runs the website and has written for The Washington Post, Destructoid, MTV, and more. He will gladly talk your ear off about horror, Marvel, Stallone, James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.