Ever puzzled what a masked maniac within the vein of Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees does in his downtime—or what it could be like if Terrence Malick made a slasher movie? In a Violent Nature, which simply debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and can stream on Shudder, units out to reply each questions.
As you may inform from that description, writer-director Chris Nash’s movie has an intriguing premise. It’s stuffed with acquainted parts: it takes place within the woods and round a lake; its main victims are a bunch of younger adults out for a great time; and its villain has a tragic backstory that explains what’s motivating his kill-crazy methods, with some super-powered enhancements that enable him to revive after grievous accidents. However its story unfolds in a most unconventional method. Its important focus is the hulking Johnny, who digs himself out of a grave within the first scene after a hiker steals the sentimental talisman that’s been holding his spirit at relaxation.
Instantly, Johnny’s again in slaughter mode, methodically stomping by the forest within the route of any human with the unhealthy fortune to be on his turf. A hefty portion of In a Violent Nature is the digital camera following behind Johnny as he walks, and walks, and walks. The movie additionally favors long-take static photographs that present Johnny in his setting, stalking his prey like a Planet Earth documentary. There’s no discernible rating, however the soundscape is fastidiously calibrated: forest atmosphere, like chicken chirps and crunching leaves, is mixed with impolite human noise. This contains automotive horns and music, but in addition voices we begin to overhear as Johnny creeps nearer. Typically, the viewers can solely catch scattered components of conversations, although issues grow to be clearer when it’s one thing essential—like exposition explaining the native lore Johnny has impressed, shared round a campfire in a scene that pays homage to what’s maybe In a Violent Nature’s most blatant slasher affect, Friday the thirteenth Half 2.
You possibly can’t put “violent” in your film title and never comply with by, and In a Violent Nature delivers; Johnny is commendably resourceful and detail-oriented in his homicide strategies. However whereas gory demise scenes are the slasher style’s raison d’être, the visceral executions we get listed here are introduced with the identical chilly detachment as the remainder of the movie. And even operatic bloodshed’s not fairly sufficient to make up for In a Violent Nature’s pacing, which trudges alongside identical to Johnny does.
The thought behind this movie is admirable. It totally commits to its poetic, Malick-like type, and it’s fantastic to see a filmmaker taking such a stunning, artistic method to one in every of cinema’s most trope-laden and sometimes under-appreciated genres. However In a Violent Nature’s nifty gimmick can also be, sadly, one thing of a downside. Positioning the movie from Johnny’s perspective—with out delving into his mindset past “who can I kill subsequent?”—additionally means there’s valuable little pressure all through. We all know the place he’s, or the place he’s seemingly lurking, almost each step of the way in which, and we all know what he’s going to do. This saps any shock or pleasure out of the story—and the truth that we don’t get to know any of his almost indistinguishable victims, clearly a deliberate selection meant to reflect Johnny’s personal absence of feelings or curiosity, means their deaths have zero impression.
You’ve got by no means seen a slasher like this earlier than, and doubtless by no means will once more. It’s an enchanting inventive experiment and style followers ought to positively give it a glance. However it might additionally make you want you had been watching a standard slasher—for one thing extra enjoyable and entertaining, might we advise Friday the thirteenth Half 2?—as an alternative.
In a Violent Nature will stream on Shudder, although a launch date is TBD.
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