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In A Violent Nature ★★



Released: 12th July 2024

Director: Chris Nash

Starring: Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Charlotte Creaghan, Reece Presley

There’s nothing more frustrating than accumulating unbelievable excitement for an audio-visual project like Chris Nash’s In A Violent Nature, only for it to one-eighty and be one of the blandest, voiceless and quite frankly tedious pieces of work that you give time too. It’s suffocating and demoralising. In essence, this kind of filmic project should categorically work for me. As a general admirer of Shudder and the works they’ve released, I have quite the soft spot for their distributed content.

Described as a “slow” and arthouse take on the serial killer genre, Nash’s In A Violent Nature ultimately takes elements of seminal works and ideas and mashes them up dreadfully. From subverting the typical narrative perspective in positioning the audience in alignment with the serial killer themselves like Gerald Kargl’s Angst, too lingering, brutal cinematography and formalism that ends up feeling as it if is mocking the unequivocal genius of Philippe Grandrieux’s Sombre and finally, most evidently, the “slow cinema” ‘genre’ as a whole. I say this and proceed with caution as I don’t necessarily agree with the terminology, referenced above, that gets batted around the filmic scene, however In A Violent Nature is incredibly slow (reductive) and not at all with or for any good reason.

Re-birthed and revenge ready, the notion of Johnny pulling himself out of a quagmire after becoming awoken by insufferable young adults is certainly an interesting opening premise. The camera lingers on the locket, an important element of the film’s narrative, as it gets removed from a metallic, chrome pole that holds Johnny within the earth. Cicadas buzz and birds swoon until the ground envelopes in on itself, as Johnny resurfaces. From here, the camera positions itself directly behind the protagonist as we follow Johnny’s routine through the forest landscape and from victim to victim.

All of the hype surrounding Nash’s work in In A Violent Nature, both in its formal presentation, direction and horrifically graphic acts of revenge and violence, are in principle there. It’s exactly that, that causes such frustration. The forest, as an entity in itself, is gorgeously shot and the practical effects are gut-wrenchingly malevolent and squirm inducing. There is just absolutely nothing behind the veil. At no point is there an inciting moment of empathy or humanism that makes a monster serial killer work so fascinating. Nash simply takes us from A to B, obliterating those in frame and it is incredibly difficult to get behind. The pacing becomes tedious and gruelling as from event to event he gives us nothing to grapple onto.

Simply put. In A Violent Nature is an outright missed opportunity. Nash takes no deep dive into the man turned monster that was Johnny, and this is his hamartia. An entirely fatal flaw. There are elements of potential all-timer filmic work within it, but the spectator is constantly led down a rabbit hole of endless depravity, with nothing to latch onto. Re-birthed, with vengeance, is a fascinating narrative device, yet the film actively chooses to do nothing with it, but violate the human body in horrific occurrences. In A Violent Nature doesn’t do anything for its spectator, but make them wonder what could have been.

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