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‘IN A VIOLENT NATURE’ Movie Review: an ingeniously immersive, shrewdly savage spin on the slasher genre

Synopsis: Johnny, a vengeful spirit driven by a horrific crime committed 60 years ago, is resurrected when a medallion is removed from a collapsed fire tower in the woods where his rotting corpse is buried.

With his debut feature film, In a Violent Nature, writer and director Chris Nash has delivered an absolute doozy, showcasing his talents after previously contributing to the anthology film ABC’s of Death 2 with “Z is for Zygote.”

Johnny (Ry Barrett), the supernatural killer here, is clearly inspired by the unstoppable hulking, hockey mask-wearing Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th. However, Nash’s revisionist take on the well-worn slasher genre is a real breath of fresh air… and blood and viscera.

The familiar elements are all present – young partiers, a remote cabin, and an unkillable killer. But, in a smart switch-up, the story unfolds almost entirely from Johnny’s perspective, the camera closely following his lumbering frame. Cinematographer Pierce Derks’ (Mandy, The Void) precise, measured camerawork, shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, lends greater intensity and intimacy to the killer’s point of view.

The 94-minute runtime unfolds at a deliberate pace, yet Nash’s skilled direction sustains an unyielding momentum that builds the viewer’s anticipation with each gruesome death. When those cleverly calculated deaths take place, they do so in such uniquely wince-inducing ways that has had audiences gasping and reportedly left one viewer throwing up in their seat – you’ll know which one when you see it – no spoilers here. The practical effects work is ingeniously and deliciously icky.

Beyond the seriously gnarly gore on display, props must also go to the sound design team, whose work ensures that every leaf, twig or bone-crunch lands just as potently as the film’s visceral impact. Quite smartly, voices that would normally be heard further away are brought front and centre, adding to the sense that events are not only seen but also heard from the killer’s perspective. It’s also important to note that there’s no score, which this reviewer didn’t twig to until the day after seeing the film; yet another testament to Nash et al.’s skill in crafting this cunningly constructed shocker.

While some may criticize a certain lack of character development, that is not the focal point here. The true draw is witnessing the relentless vengeance of our undead protagonist. If there is a weak spot to be found it’s in the final fifteen minutes, where a monologue by the killer’s backstory delivered by Lauren-Marie Taylor (Friday the 13th Part 2) slightly undermines the tension that has been so well-maintained up until then.

In a Violent Nature is an ingeniously immersive slasher that grabs its audience by the scruff of the neck and drags them, kicking and screaming, along for a richly atmospheric, shrewdly savage shockathon.

VERDICT:

In a Violent Nature opens exclusively in theaters on May 31.

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