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“In a Violent Nature” Slashes POV

Written by: Matt Patti | May 30th, 2024


In a Violent Nature (Chris Nash, 2024) 3 out of 5 stars

Slasher films are a dime a dozen and have been for quite some time. They were all the rage way back in the 1970s and ‘80s with franchises like Halloween and Friday the 13th popularizing the unstoppable, undead killer trope. Most of these movies follow a similar formula, and while they have their fans, few seem to stand out from each other.

You may think that you’ve seen it all when it comes to these types of movies, but writer/director Chris Nash’s In a Violent Nature flips the traditional slasher on its head. While most similar stories follow a group of friends or a singular main character trying to escape a mad murderer, In a Violent Nature instead primarily follows the killer. Seeing everything from the antagonist’s point of view makes for a unique experience, but not without creating unique challenges.

Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

The film begins when a locket is stolen from a burial place in the woods. The locket had been hung above the tomb of Johnny, a mass murderer who killed dozens many years ago. The theft of the locket seems to somehow bring Johnny back to life, as he emerges from the dirt. Hellbent on retrieving his locket, Johnny kills anyone and anything in his way. Will returning the locket to Johnny stop this killing spree? Or is it too late?

The selling point of In a Violent Nature is the way in which it is filmed. The movie is mainly filmed from a third-person point-of-view, akin to a video game, where we follow a character from behind as they walk. However, this is not solely committed to, as the camera angles change often.

Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

There are a plethora of walking shots where we do just this: follow behind Johnny as he walks through the woods. These shots can be intriguing at first, but become a bit tired as the film goes on. When Johnny is walking towards something or someone of interest, it is compelling to approach a scene from this angle. However, when he’s simply walking through endless rows of trees, it can become repetitive.

Director Chris Nash (marking his feature debut) makes the decision to stay with Johnny for a vast majority of the movie, and it’s quite intriguing to see how this plays out. This decision fills in the gaps that most films leave out. The viewer is able to see what the killer does and where he goes after he kills someone or after a target escapes his grasp, how he obtains his weapons, and how he evades being spotted until he’s ready to attack.

l-r: Ry Barrett and Charlotte Creaghan in IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

However, remaining with the killer in a horror movie for most of the runtime presents a specific issue. While it is undoubtedly novel to follow Johnny around, it hinders the film’s scares and surprises when you see the threat on screen as much as we do.  Some suspense is still achieved as we see Johnny approach an unassuming victim who does not see him, but not quite as much as would be present if we were seeing the events from the protagonists’ perspectives.

Nash switches things up a bit near the end of the film to show more of the protagonists, but by then we still don’t know the characters very well at all since we’ve been with Johnny this whole time. As a result, we don’t care as much about the characters that are left and it leads to a bit of a dull and uneventful conclusion. Frankly, I think Nash should have committed to staying with Johnny for the entire film, as this is the film’s stand-out quality, and deviating from that in the conclusion is a strange choice.

Timothy Paul McCarthy in IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

Outside of the novel perspective of In a Violent Nature, the film has some other properties to offer. Nash is successful in creating a sustained creepy atmosphere throughout, with quality, unsettling diegetic sounds in each space. Also, the kills in the film are very creative, but at the same time overly violent and unnecessarily gory sometimes, to the point of absurdity.

Overall, I give points to In a Violent Nature for its creativity and risk-taking. Though it comes at the cost of suspense and character development, the concept of being in a killer’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective is enthralling. A bit more commitment to that idea would be great to see, but I’d say the film accomplishes its goal for the most part. Though it is nowhere near one of the best slasher films out there, it is certainly one of the most unique.

Ry Barrett as “Johnny” in IN A VIOLENT NATURE. Courtesy of Pierce Derks. An IFC Films & Shudder Release.

Matt Patti has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films from a young age. He has lived in the Baltimore, Maryland, area since 2015 and is a graduate of Stevenson University’s Film & Moving Image program. Matt is currently back at Stevenson University, working as the School of Design, Arts, and Communication's Studio Manager.

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