'In a Violent Nature' Brings a Whole New POV to Slasher Gore

Directed by Chris Nash

Starring Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Reece Presley, Liam Leone, Charlotte Creaghan, Lea Rose Sebastianis, Sam Roulston

Photo courtesy of Cave Painting Pictures

BY Sarah ReganPublished Jun 3, 2024


Canadian writer-director Chris Nash's feature directorial debut, In a Violent Nature, oozes atmosphere right from the opening sequence, with the melodious chirps and hums of northern Ontario wilderness ringing throughout. With the lakeside cabin smell of summer lingering in the cinematic air, the audience is enveloped by entrancing nature shots of a serene forest setting, but it soon becomes eerie, and a sense of dread presents itself.

Off screen, human voices of a young group of campers soon enter the scene, and the soft warble of birds and whooshes of wind temporarily fade from the forefront as a disagreement occurs; the camera eventually pans to reveal a gold locket hanging next to a dilapidated fire tower.

In typical horror film fashion, there is always that one very foolish character who makes the worst decision possible, and In a Violent Nature is no different. A hand sneaks into frame and snatches the locket from its comfortable perch, awakening Johnny (Ry Barret), an undead killing machine. From the muddy earth below, Johnny rises up and kicks off his vengeful slashing spree into full gear.

Leaves crunch underfoot as Johnny stomps through the woods towards his first victim, his movement similar to the slow but deliberate steps of seasoned evil counterpart Michael Myers. By hovering the camera somewhere behind Johnny's large shoulders for the majority of the film, Nash situates us almost entirely from the POV of his monster, and the tension is inescapable. It's a fun, stylistic twist that works well in creating a truly immersive experience of a horror film for viewers.

This is mainly the pacing that In a Violent Nature sticks to during its 94-minute runtime — methodical and unhurried — but the constant forward motion, along with Johnny's savage determination, never lets the film become boring. In one nicely executed scene, Johnny walks into a lake with ease as one of his primary targets swims on the opposite side, and we wait for what seems like ages for the inevitable.

Nash's abilities are on full display here as he offers a unique (and nail-biting) level of suspense — the audience knows what is to come, but the perfect stillness of the water is unsettling, especially when Johnny could pounce and disrupt the peace at any given moment. It's the calm before the storm moment, and Nash has us second-guessing ourselves, making it all the more thrilling.

Although the villain's murders are unsurprising and therefore not exactly adrenaline-rushing, the ways in which he kills his poor victims are, shall we say, original (and extremely gruesome), keeping the viewer on their toes. Gore aficionados certainly will delight in the craftiness here, while those with weaker stomachs may need to either look away or perhaps cope with a bit of hysterical laughter in its sheer boldness — a particular yoga scene comes to mind.

With a focus on style and setting rather than narrative and characterization, Nash adopts an almost nature documentary-like approach to In a Violent Nature, transfixing the audience with both the calmness of the pursuit and the violence that ensues when predator catches its prey.

Crafting a horror film that stands out from the genre's endless variations of the same old isn't easy, so it's always a welcome breath of creative fresh air when a new filmmaker comes along and embraces a healthy dose of experimentation.

In a Violent Nature isn't flawless, and its slow-burn qualities may only appeal to a very specific set of horror enthusiasts, but Nash has managed to flip the workings of the slasher flick on its head, and this inventiveness is what puts his future work on my radar.

(Cave Painting Pictures)

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