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The Mink: In A Violent Nature

Posted in Movie Reviews by Neal at 19:21, Jun 12 2024

"In a Violent Nature"
by "The Mink" Troy Minkowsky

"In a Violent Nature"

Movie Review: In a Violent Nature (2024)
This movie is currently in theaters

In the years to come when bloggers rank the best Friday the 13th knock-off movies “In a Violent Nature” will end up in the top spot. It will also end up on any top ten list for modern slasher movies. I’ll even go as far as saying that this movie surpasses any film from the franchise that inspired it. That’s how exciting “In a Violent Nature” is.

I’ve always had a strained relationship with the slasher genre. At its core are murder mysteries heavily inspired by the Italian Giallo Films. If the question isn’t “Who’s the Killer?” then it becomes “Who will the killer get next?”. When done correctly they can be thrilling and suspenseful with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and original Halloween movies being standouts. Yet most of the time Slasher films end up formulaic and cheaply made. Add to that a bad script, miscasted actors and uninspired direction. The vast majority of these movies usually end up in the “so- bad- it's’- good” camp, entertaining if not taken seriously.

This can also be applied to all of the “Friday the 13th' movies as well, the franchise this movie takes most of its influence from. I find myself more of a fan of the idea of Jason Voorhees than the actual movies, the lumbering undead mass murderer stalking its prey in the forest. .Having grown up in a rural area I could easily imagine what it’d be like being chased by an unstoppable killer in the woods.When I finally got around to watching the Friday the 13th movies in my early teens I was kind of disappointed by them, never quite capturing how that scenario played out in my head.

“In a Violent Nature” does capture that scenario perfectly. It’s the Friday the 13th movie I’ve wanted.

The plot doesn’t stray from familiar territory. A group of young(ish) adults venture into the forest for debauchery and drunken mayhem. A few of them stumble across a burned down fire tower with a locket hanging on it. Without giving it a second though Troy (Liam Leone) takes the locket to give to his girlfriend Kris (Andrea Pavlovic). Little did Troy know that the locket was the only thing keeping the lumbering undead killing machine Johnny (Ry Barrett) contained in his grave. Now Johnny has arisen and is on a killing spree to get his property back.

While this all may at first sound cookie-cutter and unoriginal at first it’s how the story is told that makes “In a Violent Nature” stand out. Instead of following the group of unlikable dolts we follow our supernatural antagonist. Instead of a spookie movie soundtrack we get the buzzing and chirping of wildlife. Instead of jump scares and frantic editing we get long shots and methodical pacing.

It would be easy to say “In a Violent Nature” is “Style over Substance” but to me the style is the substance as it forces the audience to re-examine every slasher movie before it. It’s as if writer/director Chris Nash is showing us what’s going on just off camera with the generic slasher. Just this small adjustment makes for a fascinating experience.

Take for example the typical shot of having the victim in the foreground unaware of the killer in the background approaching its target. This usually makes the victim seem to have very little situal awareness. If there is a troupe that makes the audience yell out “He’s right behind you!” in frustration it’s this one.

“In a Violent Nature” has Johnny in the foreground approaching his victims in the background. This approach makes it clear why the victims are oblivious to their advancing doom. It gives the audience a better sense of spatial awareness and shows how a killer could easily sneak up on their unsuspecting target. Without a music score blaring to heighten tension we understand how a normal person wouldn’t hear Johnny’s footsteps over the natural sounds of the forest.

I also appreciate that it firmly plants itself as a slasher film and not a satire of one. There is no windfall of subversion and meta-commentary. There is no winking at the camera or self-deprecating humor. Its deconstruction of the genre is done through its camera placement and presentation.

And this method eliminated some of my biggest gripes with the genre. By having the victims mostly in the peripheral instead of the focus I had more sympathy for them because they didn’t get on my nerves. Yes, they sometimes come off as obnoxious and shallow, but are not defined by it. They may be a jerk in the moment, but they haven’t been a unrelenting jerk through the entire movie beforehand and being a little bit of a jerk one time isn’t deserving of a death sentence.

The dark little glee the audience gets from watching annoying people (or more precisely annoying performances) get punished isn’t there anymore. Even the creative kills hit differently. Instead of being “fun” they come off as excessive, unwarranted,and cruel.

While we spend the vast majority of the movie following Johnny we are never fully let into his headspace. There may be a sliver of humanity left in him or he may have as much humanity as a shark in a feeding frenzy. We get his motivation to retrieve his mother’s locket, but not the reason for his indifferent murder spree. Sometimes Johnny is childlike and other times he’s intelligent and calculating. One moment he’s transfixed by a keychain with a toy on it and another moment he’s using a large stick to set off a car horn to better sneak up on his target. Then there are the times when he is a vessel of unfiltered rage and his reactions are pure overkill.

You can project logic and motivation onto him, his actions are (somewhat) understandable on a base level. You want to get back at someone who stole something valuable to you or kill a person who tried to kill you. Yet Johnny doesn’t dole out this punishment equally. One of the most brutal deaths in this film is against a woman who had nothing to do with the locket and Johnny goes out of his way to murder her. His indifference and unfairness makes him more of a force of nature than an arbiter of justice.

Johnny is a clearer metaphor for the brutality of nature and the inevitably of death than Jason Voorhees ever was and cinematographer Pierce Derks capture the beauty, treachery and isolation of the woodlands better than any Friday the 13th movie. But if I have one criticism, and it’s a wildly unfair criticism, it’s that I wish it was an actual Friday the 13th movie instead of a homage. I wish it was Jason with his machete and hockey mask instead of Johnny with his firefighter mask and hooks.

I have no doubt that “In a Violent Nature” is going to go down in film history as the shake-up that slasher films needed, the perfect balance of the familiar and the experimental. My hope is that it will encourage other filmmakers to adjust the formula without falling into self-parody.

And whatever Chris Nash does next, if it be another horror movie or something completely different, I will be sure to check it out.

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