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In A Violent Nature(2024)(Review)

Can we take a moment to give a shoutout to Shudder? These guys have been an extensive and fulfilling horror-centric streaming service for years, but the last few years specifically has seen them taking big swings with original films, buying and distributing indie projects, and even submitting films to theaters, such as ‘Late Night with The Devil’ earlier this year and ‘Skinamarink’ last year. ‘In A Violent Nature’ is their newest presentation that has taken the scene by storm with it’s reputation and interesting approach.

The film centers around an undead killer named Johnny, who emerges from his grave deep in the woods when a group of kids take a precious locket that is hung at his burial site. The film is entirely told (with only like a 5% exception) from the killer’s perspective. The camera follows Johnny with a 3rd person over-the-shoulder view as he slowly shambles through the forest and enacting vengeance on everyone in his way.

Story wise, the film is as simple as that. There’s a scene of the campers around the fire at night as they tell the ghost story of the boy that was murdered in the woods named Johnny, but otherwise the story is told in front of us. The gimmick that accompanies this film is the kiler’s POV as he performs ‘Terrifier’ levels of violence.
I saw this in theaters and had to take some time to digest it, because it was a strange experience. The pace is very slow and it almost comes off as random – feeling like Terrence Malick and Michael Haneke working together to either parody or homage the ‘Friday the 13th’ series. The realism of Johnny shambling through the woods – with the camera unflinchingly close – feels like an ASMR video of someone hiking.

However, when we overlook those cons, there’s truly some brilliance on display here. The violence… *claps*. There is one murder that has been gossiped about since it’s release that truly is creative and over-the-top. Most of the others are also creative and gory, with only a few being either off-screen or a bit of a let down. The beautiful scenery and camerawork makes this feel meditative while also violent – almost like a manifested intrusive thought as you try to listen to the birds singing nearby.

My problems with the film were mostly the pacing and the feel of randomness. There is no real story, resolution, evolution, or anything of the sort. But as I sat on this viewing and digested it, I realized I was just looking from the wrong direction. The evolution and resolution comes from the artistic approach on display. There are some films that are entirely focused on the killers POV (‘Angst’, ‘Maniac (Remake)’), but this film is celebrating the reality that this is the closest thing we’ve gotten to a contemporary ‘Friday the 13th’ film since the remake that was released in 2009. Because of this celebration tactic, the movie is an elevation in visual storytelling and immersion. I certainly could not say that I wasn’t immersed the entire time.

Overall, it’s an interesting film. I don’t think it’s nearly as divisive or controversial as ‘Skinamarink’ or ‘The Outwaters’ from last year, but in the same way, this movie isn’t a guaranteed sell for most anybody. It has the traits of an 80s slasher with 2000’s-esque arthouse production, contemporary gore, and a self-awareness that never makes fun of itself. Imagine a meta film like ‘Scream’ that just stabs the body 20 more times instead of winking at the camera.

“In A Violent Nature” is rumored to be hitting Shudder this Friday!

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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