'In a Violent Nature' Is Sundance's Bloodiest Horror Movie – The Daily Beast

It’s also intentionally boring. (As boring as a movie in which a girl’s head is pulled out through her abdomen with a hook can be.)
Senior Entertainment Reporter
If there’s one thing that decades of horror watching will teach you, it’s that if you find a strange, fascinating object in a remote area, you should not, under any circumstances, pick it up. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Necronomicon, a VHS tape, or, in the case of the Shudder-produced Sundance Film Festival entry In a Violent Nature, a funny-looking necklace. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere, nothing good will come from disturbing this probably-cursed object.
In a Violent Nature, a slow-moving slasher that spends most of its time trudging along behind an undead serial killer, plays all the horror-trope hits: You’ve got your unsuspecting campers, your masked axe-wielding meathead, a brooding atmosphere, and, of course, a couple of final girls. But writer-director Chris Nash remixes these ingredients into something more experimental, forgoing the obligatory victim character development to instead follow Johnny the monster around. All character development happens through voyeuristic glimpses through the woods and into windows, as Johnny eavesdrops and waits for his moment to strike.
“I wanted it to play very long,” Nash recently told Variety. “I wanted that one to almost get boring, to bore the audience with grotesque violence. I just found it interesting to have a large spectacle death, but have it be so meandering.”
In that case, In a Violent Nature is a success by its own terms. The kills in this film are remarkably creative and gory; the best of them involves pulling a poor girl’s head through her own abdomen with a giant hook. In its first half, the film is remarkably atmospheric, as Johnny wanders through the woods and snoops on some stoned campers around their campfire while unsettling grunge-y music plays in the background. Most of the film features no music at all, instead embracing the sounds of the woods to create an immersive feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. There are no jump scares to be found here; instead, Johnny lumbers after his marks at a determined but joyless pace, owing perhaps to the fact he is actually a sort of zombie. He executes his work with professional detachment, even if the camera savors every moment of it.
That said, depending on your tolerance for aimless traipsing, you might, indeed, find this one kinda dull.
Johnny doesn’t have much backstory, and honestly, what little lore we get feels almost unnecessary; he’s an unstoppable killer who rises whenever someone removes his mother’s necklace from his burial spot. Mess with that pendant, and he’ll come after you and everyone you love until he’s trapped, subdued, and laid to rest once more.
As slowly as Johnny walks, the bodies pile up quickly as he makes swift use of various weapons including saws, axes, hooks, and even a wood chipper. (I won’t spoil all of it here, but there’s also a brutal beheading scene that recalls the practical effects of the ’80s.) In the end, however, the film disappoints by abandoning its central organizing premise and jumping out of his perspective. As unsatisfying as that experiment might’ve been for this impatient viewer, it also feels like the kind of thing you should either do all the way or not do at all.
Senior Entertainment Reporter
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