Ever puzzled what a masked maniac within the vein of Friday the thirteenth’s Jason Voorhees does in his downtime—or what it may be like if Terrence Malick made a slasher film? In a Violent Nature, which simply debuted at the Sundance Movie Pageant and can stream on Shudder, units out to reply each questions.
As you possibly can inform from that description, writer-director Chris Nash’s movie has an intriguing premise. It’s stuffed with acquainted parts: it takes place within the woods and round a lake; its major victims are a gaggle of younger adults out for a great time; and its villain has a tragic backstory that explains what’s motivating his kill-crazy methods, with some super-powered enhancements that enable him to revive after grievous accidents. However its story unfolds in a most unconventional approach. Its essential focus is the hulking Johnny, who digs himself out of a grave within the first scene after a hiker steals the sentimental talisman that’s been conserving his spirit at relaxation.
Instantly, Johnny’s again in slaughter mode, methodically stomping by way of the forest within the path of any human with the unhealthy fortune to be on his turf. A hefty portion of In a Violent Nature is the digicam following behind Johnny as he walks, and walks, and walks. The movie additionally favors long-take static pictures that present Johnny in his surroundings, stalking his prey like a Planet Earth documentary. There’s no discernible rating, however the soundscape is rigorously calibrated: forest atmosphere, like fowl chirps and crunching leaves, is mixed with impolite human noise. This contains automobile horns and music, but in addition voices we begin to overhear as Johnny creeps nearer. Typically, the viewers can solely catch scattered elements of conversations, although issues turn out to be clearer when it’s one thing essential—like exposition explaining the native lore Johnny has impressed, shared round a campfire in a scene that pays homage to what’s maybe In a Violent Nature’s most evident slasher affect, Friday the thirteenth Half 2.
You possibly can’t put “violent” in your film title and never observe by way of, and In a Violent Nature delivers; Johnny is commendably resourceful and detail-oriented in his homicide strategies. However whereas gory loss of life scenes are the slasher style’s raison d’être, the visceral executions we get listed below are introduced with the identical chilly detachment as the remainder of the movie. And even operatic bloodshed’s not fairly sufficient to make up for In a Violent Nature’s pacing, which trudges alongside similar to Johnny does.
The concept behind this movie is admirable. It totally commits to its poetic, Malick-like model, and it’s great to see a filmmaker taking such a stunning, artistic method to one in all cinema’s most trope-laden and infrequently under-appreciated genres. However In a Violent Nature’s nifty gimmick can also be, sadly, one thing of a disadvantage. Positioning the movie from Johnny’s standpoint—with out delving into his mindset past “who can I kill subsequent?”—additionally means there’s valuable little rigidity all through. We all know the place he’s, or the place he’s doubtless lurking, almost each step of the best way, and we all know what he’s going to do. This saps any shock or pleasure out of the story—and the truth that we don’t get to know any of his almost indistinguishable victims, clearly a deliberate alternative meant to reflect Johnny’s personal absence of feelings or curiosity, means their deaths have zero affect.
You may have by no means seen a slasher like this earlier than, and possibly by no means will once more. It’s a captivating creative experiment and style followers ought to undoubtedly give it a glance. However it might additionally make you would like you had been watching a standard slasher—for one thing extra enjoyable and entertaining, could we advise Friday the thirteenth Half 2?—as an alternative.
In a Violent Nature will stream on Shudder, although a launch date is TBD.
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