Today: July 13, 2024

In a Violent Nature

Michael Myers. Jason Vorhees. Leatherface. And now, Johnny. Yes, In a Violent Nature’s grisly killer has quickly established himself as a new horror legend who will almost certainly become a cult favourite thanks to this impeccable and unique new horror film from Chris Nash.

In a Violent Nature has been described as ‘ambient horror’, and plays a lot like a horrific nature documentary. As we follow Johnny’s slow, methodical stalking, we are reminded of watching a predator hunt their prey and can almost hear David Attenborough – there is no particular motive here, but rather instinct. That’s not to say there isn’t a level of sadism to his brutal murders, but as we experience this violence from his perspective, we don’t fear him. And it is this perspective that separates In a Violent Nature from its crowded subgenre – almost the entire film follows the killer. 

After his precious locket is stolen by a group of teens, Johnny’s rotting corpse awakens and begins his hunt in near-silent, static, long-take shots. As he quietly and deliberately moves through the woods and picks off the group one-by-one in increasingly gruesome and inventive ways, we see a whole new vision in the subgenre – and yet, a vision that is deeply rooted in the history of slashers. The film is clearly made by someone with an enormous love for horror – it’s refreshing to have a film that is so aware of a genre’s modus operandi without being obnoxiously meta or post-modern in its delivery. This is no Scream, and is in some ways even smarter. 

Interestingly, all we see (and hear) of the teens is what through Johnny’s eyes and ears, so there are a lot of gaps – it almost feels like two films, with the second film being one that we don’t see. It really works. We don’t see the usual chaos as the group start to realise their friends are going missing, or even learn a great deal about who they are or their dynamic with one another. We pick up only fragments of their story as Johnny comes in and out of their camp. But as we are experiencing this story through his perspective, it doesn’t matter. Who they are is unimportant. All that matters is they are in his way, and one of them has his locket.

The film is grisly in its violence, with some of the kills almost comical in how over-the-top they are. The cliffside yoga sequence certainly gives new meaning to ‘flexibility’. But In a Violent Nature is, on the whole, surprisingly beautiful in its visuals. Taking place largely in the daytime and captured in gorgeous 1.37:1, the film looks wonderful and could act as a macabre tourism ad for Ontario. The sound design is excellent too, feeling at times like woodland ASMR as Johnny’s heavy footsteps crunch through the undergrowth. 

In a Violent Nature is a fantastic piece of work. The kills are imaginative, memorable, and impeccably executed with terrific practical effects. The visuals are stunning. The pacing is as methodical and deliberate as Johnny’s stalking, and the premise alone is a unique and mesmerising approach to the subgenre. At a tight 90 minutes, In a Violent Nature seldom puts a foot wrong and the result is one of the finest horror films of the decade thus far. Johnny is destined for legendary horror status, as is the film itself. Bravo to all involved. 

IN A VIOLENT NATURE IS RELEASED IN UK AND IRISH CINEMAS FROM 12 JULY

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