Out of all of the Midnight films that have been shown at Sundance this year, In a Violent Nature is simultaneously the most rewarding, and most taxing of them all.  Its premise is nothing new; a few kids camp for a weekend in the woods and are suddenly assailed by a merciless killer armed with dragging hooks and donning an old school fireman’s mask.  To veterans of the horror/flasher film genre, this may seem like a typical run of the mill grind house slasher flick but au contraire!  In a Violent Nature distinguishes itself from its more common and clichéd counterparts by shifting the perspective from that of the victims, to that of the killer.

When asked about their unique approach to the slasher genre at the film’s world premiere, one of the filmmakers described this picture as more of a “mood piece”, or better yet, ASMR horror.  A more accurate description would be a sociopathic form of filmmaking that only a true film masochist could enjoy.

Much of the film can be likened to being stuck on the world map of some MMORPG.  You know, the kind of game that makes you limp along at a snail’s pace for half an hour just so you can get to the next town and listen to some NPCs spout off a story about how their child got lost in the forest or what have you.  Suffice it to say that our killer moves at an alarmingly slow pace, and a good portion of the film is us as audience just watching him jaunt around from place to place until eventually he happens to catch one of his unsuspecting victims.

While the pacing of the film can be a bit frustrating, an argument could be made that it is this edging towards each climatic kill that makes the brutal payoffs so much more intense.  Many of the kills in this film are shocking within their own right, but had they not been bookended by excruciatingly monotonous walking sequences, it is very possible that they might not have been as impactful.  The expectation of pain and suffering is sometimes more gruesome than the actual pain itself.  The audience knows what is coming often minutes before the victims do, and the audience must sit with bated breath and watch the terror as it slowly unfolds.  It should make you want to turn it off or just walk away, but instead, In a Violent Nature is inexplicably addictive and impossible to turn away from.

In a Violent Nature is a film that demands to be seen in an audience to be truly appreciated.  Its dialogue leaves much to be desired, and its pacing can be oftentimes frustrating.  However, the ability of the film to keep its audience enraptured despite all of these things, makes it a worthwhile watch.  Most ground-breaking films aren’t loved because they are ergonomical, they are loved because they challenge aesthetic norms or pursue new avenues of creative expression. This film does all of these things.

It’s the first step in a new generation of horror films, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Blair Witch Project brought found footage horror into the public zeitgeist.  We can’t wait to see what happens next.

In a Violent Nature
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Ty Cooper lives in Asia and spends most his time drifting through the streets of Taiwan imagining he is Shotaro Kaneda in Akira. Once a year he takes on the unyielding snow storm that is Sundance and attempts to capture a glimpse at what the upcoming year in film has to offer. Ty first started writing for HeyUGuys after SXSW in 2010.
in-a-violent-nature-reviewRewarding, relentless, and a sociopathic form of filmmaking that only a true cinemasochist could enjoy. A slow burning film which has some truly unforgettable moments and may very well start a whole new movement in horror filmmaking.