In A Violent Nature: A Unique Concept That Loses Momentum Rapidly

IN A VIOLENT NATURE - Courtesy of IFC Films
IN A VIOLENT NATURE - Courtesy of IFC Films /

Given the popularity of slasher films, it’s surprising that a feature like In A Violent Nature, experienced almost entirely from the killer’s perspective, wasn’t made sooner. When it was announced that Chris Nash’s creative, one-of-a-kind feature debut would hit theaters in May 2024 and redefine the subgenre by placing viewers in the shoes of the villain for the first time, this caught the attention of many horror enthusiasts. While In A Violent Nature provides the audience with a fresh, distinctive experience with unforgettable kill sequences, unfortunately, the film quickly runs out of steam.

In the feature’s opening scene, the camera fixates on a necklace for what feels like an eternity. As the piece of jewelry hangs from a collapsed fire tower in the wilderness, viewers are left dwelling on the object's purpose and significance. In the background, two men can be heard conversing, and their unknown identities heighten the intrigue. After the two campers decide to steal the hanging pendant, tension mounts as the pair inadvertently wakes up Johnny (Ry Barrett), a menacing killer with a tragic past who will stop at nothing to reclaim his locket.

On the surface, In A Violent Nature has a lot to offer. For one, the film’s setting and cinematography are exceptionally beautiful. Despite the feature’s sinister subject matter, there’s something incredibly tranquil about the natural setting. As a viewer, you fully immerse yourself in the experience and feel as if you’re right there alongside the killer.

Barrett’s physical portrayal of Johnny is praiseworthy. He’s such an intimidating presence, which is hard to accomplish, especially when having to rely solely on body movements without any dialogue. The film also contains unsettling, evil, and bloody kills. They are undoubtedly some of the most memorable death scenes from horror films in recent years and are genuinely shocking, thanks to pristine practical effects that are incredibly realistic.

Yet, regardless of all the positives the feature has to offer, I still found In A Violent Nature a mixed bag and a film that will be extremely divisive among viewers. Experiencing the movie from the killer’s point of view is a fascinating concept, but this approach becomes increasingly tedious and repetitive after about 40 minutes. The character of Johnny is a blatant mix of Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees and My Bloody Valentine’s T.J., and his costume design and look lack any real uniqueness. 

Another drawback of In A Violent Nature is that the story lacks the necessary depth and character development to fill in some of the blanks and keep the narrative gripping. Though the film aims to engross viewers in Johnny’s killing spree, there are limitations to how engaging the story can be when watching a man walk through the woods committing murders for most of the film’s runtime without much else going on.

Viewers learn so little about each one of the campers along the way, that their undesirable fate fails to evoke much of an emotional reaction. In addition, the audience is seeing the world from Johnny’s point of view, so there is no real sense of anticipation. We know where the killer is most of the time and when the next gruesome death will occur, which diminishes the film’s mystery and momentum.

Though In A Violent Nature boasts a unique, fresh viewing experience, stunning cinematography, and sadistic, gory kills, there isn’t enough meat on the bones to keep the audience fully engaged. If you love the slasher sub-genre, you may appreciate the feature’s noteworthy creativity and practical effects; though, one can’t help but wonder if the film may have been more effective as a short. 

Rating: 3/5

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