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In a Violent Nature movie review (2024)

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As I said, none of it is scary; because we see Johnny at all times, we’re hardly ever kept out of the loop about where he is, how close he is to his victims, when he might strike. If anything, Nash uses this knowledge for some pitch-black humor, as we see the typical poolside flirtations and cabin-in-the-woods arguments turn violent without the need for a jump scare. But Nash also knows we need something to stake our bloodlust, which is why Johnny’s kills are some of the most outrageous and gore-filled in recent memory. Heads get slowly cut in half against a tree; a yoga-obsessed girl gets stretched out more than she bargained for; a log splitter gets used in all the ways your depraved mind might suggest. The kids try their level best to fight back or run away if they can, and their helplessness grows ever more hilarious as Johnny trudges toward them without missing a step. He is, as one trucker hat might imply early on, the #1 Motherfucker.

If anything takes away from “Violent Nature,” it’s that the runtime occasionally outpaces the novelty of the premise. Nash seems to feel this late in the film, as the proceedings whittle down to the predictable Final Girl and focus on her existential fear at the prospect of finally escaping him. It’s a neat idea, and the anti-rug pull Nash accomplishes in this final stretch (involving a long truck ride away from the crime scene and a portentous monologue from a mysterious rescuer played by Lauren-Marie Taylor) is novel to a point. But by dint of the film’s very conceit, we know so little about this woman — she’s maybe had about a few minutes of screentime, tops — that she feels like she’s pulling focus at the end. After all, we’re all about our boy Johnny and his sick axe-swinging skills. 

“In a Violent Nature” is soaked in as much atmosphere as it is blood and viscera, an inventively cozy approach from an exciting new filmmaker. Who knows if we’d get more entries in Johnny’s roaring rampage of revenge — I’m not even sure if the one-of-a-kind approach would survive the loss of novelty. Either way, it’s a brilliant showcase for Nash’s patient, devious mind and hopefully a bellwether for what we see next from him. 

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