“In a Violent Nature” (2024) [Calgary Underground Film Festival]

by Joseph Perry
Normally here at “The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict”, both Joseph and Mike give their thoughts on a slice of cinema. However, here and there they will be taking the reins in a solo outing. For this installment, it’s Joseph with a solo review of  the Canadian slasher In a Violent Nature by writer/director Chris Nash and Zygote Pictures.

When a locket is removed from a collapsed fire tower in the woods that entombs the rotting corpse of Johnny, a vengeful spirit spurred on by a horrific 60-year old crime, his body is resurrected and becomes hellbent on retrieving it.

The Good
Regular readers here at The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict may recall that I often state how I am a hard sell on slasher films involving masked marauders. Well, not this time, dear readers. Nash’s In a Violent Nature won me over early on and I was glued to the screen throughout. It gives an arthouse horror feel to toying with tropes of the slasher subgenre, and for me, that works beautifully. We have such tried-and-true elements as the backstory of the supernatural killer (Ry Barrett as Johnny) info-dumped as a scary camping story among a group of friends, unwisely wandering off in the woods alone, and of course, inventive, gory kills. What Nash does away with is calling-card sound effects and screeching music, replaced instead with ambient sounds such as the crunching of boots on the ground, bird songs, and conversations in the distance — top-notch work by the film’s sound department — and instead of jump scares and unexpected appearances by the killer, we are treated to long set-ups that build anticipation and serve up grueling set pieces rather than merely suddenly startle. You’ll spend plenty of time with Johnny as he stalks his prey and sets up their denouements. Cinematographer Pierce Derks perfectly captures the beauty of the Ontario forest setting contrasting with the lumbering, rotting force of nature Johnny and his grue-strewn slayings. Johnny is shot mostly from behind, and our perspective is often similar to what he sees. Barrett and his fellow cast members Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Reece Presley, Liam Leone, Charlotte Creaghan, Lea Rose Sebastianis, Sam Roulston, Alexander Oliver, Timothy Paul McCarthy, and Lauren-Marie Taylor all turn in fine work. We may not get much in the way of backstories other than Johnny’s, but Nash serves up interesting bits of dialogue that allow viewers to fill in the gaps regarding relationships and tension within the camping group’s members and regarding other characters. Gorehounds are treated to some incredible kills, including an absolutely jaw-dropping one, and an ending that I feel works incredibly well. 

The Bad
Joseph: No complaints from me here. I consider In a Violent Nature to be a five-stars-out-of-five work.

The Verdict
Hoo boy, is In a Violent Nature going to be divisive! For me, it’s an instant, no-brainer addition to my list of best horror films of 2024. Slasher fanatics seeking instant gratification will likely strongly disagree with me, and that’s fine; there are plenty of other offerings from the subgenre out there. But whereas I find many of those to be simply derivative or mere pastiche, Nash’s feature delivers something different.

In a Violent Nature
screens as part of the 21st Calgary Underground Film Festival, which runs April 18–28, 2024. For more information, visit https://www.calgaryundergroundfilm.org/.

In a Violent Nature, from IFC Films and Shudder, is exclusively in theaters from May 31st, 2024.

In a Violent Nature
Directed By: Chris Nash
Written By: Chris Nash
Starring: Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Reece Presley, Liam Leone
Run Time: 1h 34m
Rating: NR
Release Date: 2024