In A Violent Nature Review

We review the elevated, arthouse horror flick, In A Violent Nature.

PLOT: When a locket is removed from a collapsed fire tower in the woods that entombs the rotting corpse of Johnny, a vengeful spirit spurred on by a horrific 60-year old crime, his body is resurrected and becomes hellbent on retrieving it.

REVIEW: I’ve been waiting my entire life for someone to come along and make “POV Jason Voorhees.” The concept of following a slasher villain as they go on their journey of mayhem is the stuff of dreams. I’ve always felt that slashers are the prime candidate to deconstruct in an interesting way. Not since Scream has the subgenre been given a unique perspective and had hype behind it. So, like the 1996 classic, I was hoping this would build off of the films that came before it, and bring slasher films to new heights. Instead of a love letter, In A Violent Nature feels like an insult to the genre.

In A Violent Nature mostly follows the killer, Johnny, as he’s been resurrected to retrieve a stolen locket. He rises from the ground and we as the audience bring up the rear on his slow walk towards bloody destruction. But that’s really all it is. There’s no deconstructing stereotypes or subverting expectations: we are simply following this man as he kills person after person. Each victim is quick to accept their fate and die in gruesome ways, with little to no resistance. There are elements of the subgenre, with a final girl and familial history for the killer. But it adds up to nothing more than window dressing. It’s there to check a box versus add to the story.

There are obvious comparisons with Friday the 13th, with the Johnny character paralleling Jason Voorhees in many ways. However, Johnny lacks any kind of personality that can allow the audience to attach themselves. He’s just a killer husk. One of the reasons the Friday the 13th films have persevered for decades, is that they’re just plain fun. But everything here is such a bore. Johnny has no distinct personality and mostly seems drawn to noise versus debauchery. Ry Barrett has a great build but the film doesn’t really allow him to be anything other than a stuntman. I hope he wore his fitness watch because he definitely got his steps in.

Why do so many films insist on going full frame these days? I can count on one hand the times a modern movie actually pulls it off. It mostly just comes across like a gimmick and that’s really all it is here. The director claimed he wanted Johnny to get “lost in the frame” more and “be one with nature,” but I’d argue full frame makes that even more difficult. And since so much of the film is just following Johnny walking, and given his wide frame, he takes up so much of the field of view. So it’s hard to lose someone when we’re just staring at their back for long periods.

I don’t want this to all be negative so let’s focus on some positives. The look of Johnny is very cool, with his Smoking Mask providing an intimidating look. Though, it’s a little pointless since we don’t even get to see the mask most of the time. And his hook felt rather unique as a murder weapon. There’s one death in particular that is an absolute showcase for the picture. Practical effects are used to absolute perfection and help to elevate otherwise bland scenes. Most of the kills leave little impact but the ones that do are quite memorable.

Johnny (Ry Barrett) in In A Violent Nature (2024).

While the concept behind the film seems to be “an elevated slasher film” it doesn’t really have those elements outside of the pretentious camerawork. The acting is beyond bad, which really clashes with the arthouse aesthetic. The dialogue is very cliched and the story has been done a thousand times. And that’s all well and good except they don’t subvert anything. They’re simply bad characters with bad dialogue, which I think speaks to the filmmaker’s opinion on slasher films. As much as I went into this thinking it’d be a love letter, it feels more like an insult to the subgenre.

In A Violent Nature is easily the most disappointed I’ve been with a horror film in quite some time. As a massive slasher fan, I had very high expectations. The idea of deconstructing the genre and elevating it is a lifelong dream for most fans. Or heck, even simplifying it and distilling it down to its essence could have also worked. Yet this does none of that. It simply takes a very bland slasher script, and gives it some Gus Van Sant camerawork and editing. And when that results in 70% of the movie just being a guy walking for long periods; it ultimately feels pointless.

IN A VIOLENT NATURE IS IN THEATERS MAY 31ST, 2024 AND COMES TO SHUDDER LATER THIS SUMMER.

5

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Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/in-a-violent-nature-review/

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