In a Violent Nature

In a Violent Nature
In a Violent Nature
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“An ignoble savage, not a noble savage”: that is what the great Stanley Kubrick had to say when he was interviewed by The New York Times. He is an illogical, fierce, weak, dumb and partial party whenever his private interest is concerned – that sums it up. The only thing that interests me when it comes to man’s brutal and violent nature is that it portrays him as he really is. And every attempt to construct social systems on false ideas about who people are doomed to disaster.” In A Violent Nature, a new horror movie almost becomes a tone poem of this quote and in effect receives virtually perfect acclaim from reviewers.

In A Violent Nature is quite like any other conventional horror which deliberately makes use of clichés save for one thing: it puts the viewer into the shoes of indifferent, unstoppable murderer himself. Thus you follow him with long over-the-shoulder tracking shots all around Ontario’s woodlands (the entire movie takes place in forest), occasionally; there are hardly ‘scenes’, just like Jason Voorhees had been filmed making a documentary through such means. This therefore implies that the film has its slow pacing that can easily put away many people from watching but for those movie enthusiasts with high concept who can balance out gory horror with Werner Herzog or Carl Dreyer’s artistry they should be prepared for an ‘unrated’ treat at most. Yet another case where MPAA loses…

The slasher hype is already surrounding In A Violent Nature as critics hail the movie for daringness and originality on many fronts and they are right in doing so. Even though Nash also loves how Terrence Malick and Gus Van Sant track their protagonists from behind using visually stunning methods, he instead chooses to follow “Johnny”, his so-called antagonist (Ry Barrett). The exception occurs only at the end of this remarkable film made by Nash since we see Johnny being followed sparingly (static establishing shots, dreamlike tracking shots).

This consists of a scene in which a group of New England teenage friends sit around a bonfire and one narrates the mythical legend of Johnny in a thick local accent. Whenever anyone stumbles upon a particular locket out in the woods, Johnny’s relentless spirit is aroused from its slumber and he literally rises from his grave to kill whoever comes into his path. The teenagers take it anyway, and Johnny goes after them. You still stay with Johnny throughout except for some moments such as this fire which kind of reminds me how Jaws started.

Therefore, we often listen to bits and pieces of conversation from afar. Hence the closer he gets to sound source the louder dialogue spoken at him becomes – this is achieved by placing the camera directly behind him—making you feel like you are there with him using all your senses. Unlike other films that have done this in order to involve their audiences in their lustful and violent desires (Peeping Tom, Funny Games, Salò), In A Violent Nature seems intent on another direction. It refuses to accommodate those who will say “Just hurry up and get to the action already!” because it is an artistic, thought-provoking tool that does not want to give into impatient viewers out there who are only concerned with having something to say about movies

When it comes to slow-burn moments, it is astonishing how meticulous and patient the grisly death scenes are to Chris Nash in the film. Before that we discuss whether or not this is one of the most artistic horror films in a while, what is undeniable about In A Violent Nature is that it does not shy away from gore and gruesome deaths. There are two kill scenes in the film that instantly rank among the greatest deaths in horror history.

The other killing scene involving a log splitter may keep some viewers scratching their heads wondering why it continues for so long. However, to those people who love slow cinema and film art, they will have no problem with its duration and may even compare it to the incredibly long shot just like in A Ghost Story (2017), where Rooney Mara’s grieving character eats a pie. In fact, according to director Chris Nash who recently spoke with us on In A Violent Nature, he wants this scene to last even longer. Maybe by any chance there could be an equal hypothetical follow-up: In A More Violent Nature (title pitch).

Then there’s another show-stopper moment between Johnny and Aurora (Charlotte Creaghan), another teenager who’s doing yoga alone out on a lake just beyond the woods where Johnny lives. The character sneaks up on her at first when she thinks he is one of the vacationing boys with young energy in her group. However, when Aurora confronts oddly mask-wearing Johnny face-to-face, it becomes almost beautiful – but this may be one of those times when you cover your eyes even if as for us this was one of the most horrific deaths we’ve ever seen onscreen.

The movie’s ending might divide people who can appreciate slow poetry as presented in In a Violent Nature from others. Without giving things away, it is difficult to talk about but feels more like epilogue from another film altogether. This breaks all aesthetic rules set during the previous 80 minutes and might contain more dialogue (a monologue actually) in a ten minute scene than all the other speech of the film combined. This stops the film and says, “Here are the themes of the film and something to think about.”

This ending is likely to be enjoyed by some; it’s an oddity that suits this iconoclastic movie. It’s a head-scratcher, and it could pave the way for a sequel, though that doesn’t seem to be the filmmakers’ intention. Moreover, it also provides some symbolic details In A Violent Nature. By having all actions take place in a forest, with only access being through a killer himself, Nash creates almost inhumanly coldly dispassionate objective perspective on violent behavior of nature both human and natural.

Hence, it would be no exaggeration to say that Nash put his audience into violent nature of Ontario (with its little black flies). The title thus reflects quite literally what we see here—violent nature of Ontario. Though there have been comparisons made between this one and Malick as well as Gus Van Sant’s films but Herzog comes into one’s mind watching In A Violent Nature at its end. At the end of Burden of Dreams Les Blank reveals Herzog as having said:

In conclusion, ultimately, the author of In a Violent Nature has depicted a terrifying philosophical reflection on nature’s callousness without any regard to people’s lives. This movie is not meant for squeamish individuals; it is filled with so much bloodshed. It’s like the Friday 13th but deconstructed in bits, which speaks to its postmodernist character. It will be enjoyed by those who love both horror movies and their own strong stomachs. What kind of project could Chris Nash do next?

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