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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'In A Violent Nature' review: Slashing your hopes of staying alive


A masked maniac swinging an axe next to a car
IFC Films

Just some young people casually hanging out in the woods, where no one can hear you scream, and most of them being rather irritating as individuals. I'm sure that everything will go swimmingly, especially based on the entire history of the horror genre and depictions of killers in them over the years. With that said, let's enjoy the comfy and cosy vibes of In A Violent Nature, which is written and directed by Chris Nash and set in Ontarian wilderness.


We follow a slow-moving and mute killer named Johnny (Ry Barrett) who literally unearths himself after a young man, Troy (Liam Leone), from a group staying and camping at a nearby cabin snatches a necklace from a rickety shack in which Johnny is buried underneath. Naturally, Johnny goes on a killing spree afterwards to retrieve the necklace, hunting down Troy and fellow campers Kris (Andrea Pavlovic), Colt (Cameron Love), Ehren (Sam Roulston), Aurora (Charlotte Creaghan), Brodie (Lea Rose Sebastianis) and Evan (Alexander Oliver).


As you may be able to tell already, Nash's slasher showcase isn't here for an overly introspective time but it is here for a bloody good time. Naming other titles can sometimes be a crutch when discussing someone's work, but in this case it makes a lot of sense since ''Nature'' is proudly riffing on horror classics, mainly the 'Friday The 13th' franchise, which is the clearest link to the film's setup and characters. This thankfully doesn't become a lazy comparison because Nash and co. find their own way into this framework, utilising slow movements, a soundscape with no score and watchful yet considered cinematography (by Pierce Derks) to capture the horror that ensues. The movie nails the contrast between nature's serenity—established by some great sound work (designed by Tim Atkins and Michelle Hwu) and locations—and the violence as well as the greed of humanity that then disturbs aforementioned serenity.


This is not to say that Nature doesn't leave something to be desired because there's several elements that could've elevated it even further. Thematically, its exploration of man-versus-nature or environmental concerns is middling, perhaps even accidental, while all the performances are mostly serving the plot so that we can get to a gore scene, which makes you wish that there was at least one that stood out from the bunch. The biggest hindrance is the film's uneven structure and its unfolding as it never quite finds the proper levels of escalation and dread; it's not that there aren't any highs and tense moments because there are, but the journey isn't fully satisfying. This is particularly obvious during the last 30 minutes when the movie ultimately wraps things up with some aimless wandering and one dull, long scene. The last few shots are great on their own, but your excitement has been significantly reduced by then.


But you've packed your tents, lighters and beers to mostly enjoy the horror elements, right? In that regard, you're in excellent hands since the gleeful humour in Nash's vision (presumably intended as such) is in fluent conversation with the film's first-rate FX makeup, clever staging and squelching sounds. The kills are inventive, funny, gross, awe-inspiring depending on the situation, which is pretty much everything that you'd want. Aurora's death specifically is wild in all the best ways and makes you want to know how it was achieved, which is always a thrilling sensation. Although to be clear, Nature isn't presented as humorous or crowd-pleasing in any sense. You just can't help but grin like a madman whenever you see something where it's evident that the filmmakers are loving the fact that they are, you know, making a film and getting to create all these wacky scenarios.


With a wicked sense of playfulness, remarkable gore effects and a fresh approach to a well-worn narrative, the movie makes you a willing participant in its havoc. Well, as long as you haven't stolen or ''borrowed'' something that's not yours. Unrelated, I need to return this log splitter I have before it bites me in my neck.


Smileys: Makeup, humour


Frowneys: Structure


Here's Johnny, once again.


3.5/5

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