It’s clear from the imagery, the poster, and the description that writer/director Chris Nash’s slasher movie In a Violent Nature, which will be having its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this month, is inspired by backwoods slashers like the Friday the 13th films… but during an interview with Variety, Nash revealed that this one takes a different approach to the backwoods slasher sub-genre, as it focuses on the killer rather than the potential victims and also draws inspiration from the works of Terrence Malick and Gus Van Sant.
Sundance said In a Violent Nature is about “the enigmatic resurrection, rampage, and retribution of an undead monster in a remote wilderness.” Variety adds that it features “a masked killer named Johnny traipsing through the woods, camping teens, a local who escaped death years ago, buckets of gore. But including these cornerstones doesn’t feel like a retread—instead, it gave Nash room to play freely. Like, for example, making the perspective largely tethered to the killer. There’s no spotlight on heroes or final girls here, only the glimpses and whispers of those unfortunate enough to find themselves in the path of Johnny’s reign of terror.”
Nash told Variety, “We went in knowing that we were just following around this slasher character the entire time. To reveal any kind of story, we decided we’ll have overheard conversation establishing all that. We are standing on the shoulders of giants as far as the tropes that have been ingrained in audiences for decades. They know right away when the characters are talking: OK, this is the asshole boyfriend, this is the troubled hunk, this is the girl next door.’ It clicks right away.“
They add that the murder scenes are often presented in “real-time, with a clinical detachment that almost makes Johnny’s exploits seem workmanlike”. There’s even a lengthy murder scene involving a log splitter that Nash tried to draw out for so long that it would test the viewer’s patience. As Nash said, “I love the vibe of following a character. Sitting back and having somebody hold your hand through this story and just feeling a gentle breeze of the film pass by you. I kept thinking of slashers — what kind of direction could we go from there? We’re following a character, not even commenting on what’s happening or what they’re doing, we’re just on this ride.“
In a Violent Nature has already secured theatrical and streaming distribution with IFC and Shudder. Shudder’s Samuel Zimmerman told Variety, “Chris had such a clarity of vision with what this film is. It takes elements of very classical slashers and the very classical slasher aesthetic, but I understood the language he wanted to tell it in. At the time he was talking about films like Gerald Kargl’s Angst, which is one of my favorite home invasion films from Austria from the early ’80s. It has really revolutionary cinematography, so I knew he wanted to make this artful slasher that didn’t reject the hallmarks, but evolved the language of it forward and gave you a different perspective by tying you to the monster himself.“
Scott Shooman, the head of AMC Networks film group (which owns Shudder), added: “When you surrender yourself to this movie at the theater, it’s a different experience. It’s got the best slasher kills. It’s why we share armrests: To have the experience of something like In a Violent Nature in the theater.“
Slashers are my favorite type of movie to watch (Friday the 13th is my favorite franchise), so In a Violent Nature is my most highly anticipated film of this year’s Sundance premieres. I can’t wait to get a chance to see this one.
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