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“In a Violent Nature” lacks proper execution (No pun intended)


Director: Chris Nash

Rating: 2.5/5

POV: You’re an undead serial killer.

The slasher genre is one that polarizes horror fans and filmmakers across generations. On one hand, slashers are routinely successful and relatively inexpensive, making them a viable option for young filmmakers who want to create impactful films on a budget. On the other hand, they can be formulaic and repetitive, which can feel constraining. “In a Violent Nature” sets out to break the slasher mold, all while reaping the usual benefits.

The premise is a great pitch: a slasher film that follows, quite directly, in the steps of the killer. Filmed from a third perspective angle, “In a Violent Nature” tracks behind the elusive serial killer as he stalks and murders his teen victims. The film has been described as an “ambient slasher”, focusing less on cheap jump scares and heart-pounding sequences, and more on gradually building dread through extensive long cuts.

still from In A Violent Nature by Chris Nash, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Unfortunately, the allure of  “In a Violent Nature” precedes the film. Although interesting in theory, the film falls apart during execution. Its “slow cinema” design causes the film’s 94-minute run time to drag, and the majority of the film is dedicated to following the lumbering maniac (who, ironically, displays no signs of manic behavior whatsoever). The killer, who we come to know as “Johnny”, displays a nonchalant attitude towards his victims, which dissolves any sort of panic or anticipation within the audience.

I have to give director Chris Nash credit where credit is due: the “ambient slasher” style is ambitious, and pretty high-risk in this genre. However, this is the only thing the film does to stand out from other slashers, because every other aspect lays heavily into genre stereotypes. The script lacks any sort of depth and relies on coincidence and easy-outs so the film (just barely) makes sense. 

Obviously Johnny doesn’t care about his victims –- and neither does the audience! We’ve seen the same group of degenerate teenagers repeated in a plethora of other films. At least films like “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” make the effort to somewhat develop each of the characters – at least so that the audience can remember their name at the end of the film.

The worst part of the film is easily its ending. Like every other mediocre slasher, the film ends with a final chase sequence between the killer and the final girl, a la “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. Yet, Johnny is no Leatherface, and the anticlimactic resolution is what I would consider to be the least satisfying ending to any Sundance film I’ve seen thus far.

Despite its conclusion, the film is innovative in its kills (which, to be fair, is what most people watch slashers for). Although they’re few and far between, each on-screen death is intricate, unique in design, and sticks with the audience well after the credits roll. One scene, which involves yoga and a hook, received the loudest audience reaction out of any of the screenings I attended this season. If you’re someone who can stomach gore, I would recommend the film for that sequence alone.

“In a Violent Nature” is more kill-than-thrill, but Nash shows potential as an up-and-coming visionary. My biggest hope is that this film gives him the exposure (and the budget) that his talent deserves.

“In a Violent Nature” is set to be theatrically released on May 31, before being added to Shudder’s lineup later this year. Until then, you can watch the trailer here.

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About the Contributor
Grace Doyle
Grace Doyle, Associate Producer: #THAT
Grace Doyle is a senior 3+1 film, television, and media arts major from Dedham, Massachusetts. She works as production assistant on campus and has interned with 7News WHDH-TV and Tuff Gong Worldwide. She is an Associate Producer on #THAT and has previously served as a Music and Television Beat Reporter for Q30TV.

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