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“In a Violent Nature” is a love letter to classic slashers and an innovative, astonishingly unique, and brutal reimagining of the subgenre.

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Being a horror fan truly is a labor of love. I say this not only because the quality of horror varies wildly but also because being a horror filmmaker requires the same love that the fans have if you want your art to stand out in a crowded room. Writer and director Chris Nash has made a film that perfectly exemplifies what I’m talking about with his Sundance debut, In A Violent Nature.

First truly (and grotesquely) bursting onto the scene with his short entry “Z Is For Zygote” on the mixed bag anthology release, The ABC’s Of Death 2, it was no surprise that he was a visual effects artist with a keen eye for the gross.

I’ve been watching horror for 30 years, and I can say that nothing has made me want to turn away or cover my eyes like “Z Is For Zygote” did. In fact, nothing has even come close, and that is saying a lot because I’ve seen all the disturbing and fucked up heavy hitters of extreme horror.

A Violent Nature is a simple enough story.

Johnny rises from the ground in the Ontario wilderness with one goal in mind, and he is ready to kill anyone in his path to achieve it.

Ry Barrett plays Johnny, and he does it very well. Johnny is the quintessential slasher from our childhood in that he’s the undead Jason Voorhees type that continues to lurch forward and seemingly can’t be killed. If he finds a person, they get added to the body count. It’s as simple as that, and the simplicity is part of where the brilliance lies.

If you asked me anything about any of the victims, I’d have no answer for you because it’s not about them. The film takes a complaint that horror fans have about the victims being someone the audience doesn’t care about and turns it into a positive.

For 90% of the film, we’re sitting on Johnny’s shoulder and experiencing a day in the life of an undead killing machine.

Let me tell you this right here and now: that experience was visually incredible and a new take on horror filmmaking that I loved and respected.

The film is slow and methodical in its approach to the material, obviously on purpose, which works to its advantage. The lack of music and dialogue (which there is very little of) builds the suspense. That suspense, however, isn’t building up to scares in the traditional sense. That tension is building up to unadulterated brutality.

Okay, I’ve edged you long enough.

I will be giving absolutely nothing away as far as the details of these kills are concerned. I will tell you that they are some of the best kills put to the screen in recent memory, and they fit the movie’s tone perfectly. Slow, methodical, and truly stunning, these kills are a slice of arthouse cruelty the likes of which we haven’t seen on a cinema screen in years, if ever.

Where films like Terrifier 2 (which I loved) celebrated insanity with violence, In A Violent Nature takes its time, shows you everything, and, perhaps more unnerving, lets you HEAR everything.

Every crunch of the bones and every squish of the guts hits your ears like a mallet because there are no audio tricks to take your attention away from what is happening.

One kill in particular may be the best kill ever seen on screen in a horror film.

In A Violent Nature is an experiment in horror filmmaking and a stunning showcase of minimalist brutality that knows exactly what it is as it plays out in front of us. Chris Nash took a lot of chances with this film, and in my mind, it succeeded with every chance it took.

Films like this keep me coming back to horror whenever I feel like the genre is experiencing a slow period.

When another fan asks me to suggest something they’ve never seen in a horror film, I have a new answer. 

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

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