Review: ‘In a Violent Nature,’ starring Ry Barrett, Andrea Pavlovic, Cameron Love, Reece Presley, Liam Leone, Charlotte Creaghan, Alexander Oliver and Lauren Taylor

May 30, 2024

by Carla Hay

Ry Barrett in “In a Violent Nature” (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)

“In a Violent Nature”

Directed by Chris Nash

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed part of Ontario, Canada, the horror film “In a Violent Nature” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one multiracial person) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A sinister murderer rises from the dead and goes on a killing spree in a remote wooded area. 

Culture Audience: “In a Violent Nature” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of slasher flicks that stick to a certain formula but offer a few interesting twists.

Ry Barrett and Charlotte Creaghan in “In a Violent Nature” (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)

People who watch “In a Violent Nature” should not expect anything groundbreaking in this slow-moving slasher flick. What makes the film unique are a few of the brutal kills and the subtle messaging about trying to deal with childhood trauma. This is not a movie for people who want a lot of information about the people who are the targets of the murder spree, because the movie is shown from the perspective of the supernatural killer.

Writer/director Chris Nash makes his feature-film directorial debut with “In a Violent Nature,” which takes place in an unnamed part of the Canadian province of Ontario, where the movie was filmed on location. “In a Violent Nature” had its world premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. This low-budget movie has an over-used horror concept of a killer on the loose in a remote area. However, attentive viewers will notice—especially in the very last image shown in the film—something that further explains the killer’s motivation.

“In a Violent Nature” takes place in an isolated wooded area, where a group of seven young people (in their late teens/early 20s) have arrived to go camping. They are staying at a (horror cliché alert) cabin in the woods. The movie also has a relatively small number (11) of people in the cast, so don’t expect a complicated story.

There is almost no information about these young people (four males and three females), who are camping in the woods. However, it’s revealed that soon after arriving in the woods, they were at an abandoned tower, where they found a gold chain necklace with a small round pendant hanging from the shrubbery outside. One of the guys in the group took the necklace. The campers aren’t fully seen on screen until a little later in the story.

The names of the campers are Ehren (played by Sam Roulston), Aurora (played by Charlotte Creaghan), Brodie (played by Lea Rose Sebastianis), Kris (played by Andrea Pavlovic), Troy (played by Liam Leone), Colt (played by Cameron Love) and Evan (played by Alexander Oliver). Ehren is the one who’s the most likely to get teased by the other people. Aurora is the “alpha female” of the group. It’s later revealed that Aurora and Brodie have a mild flirtation with each other, and they’re not really sure where this flirtation is going to go.

What the campers don’t know, but will soon find out, is that the necklace they took has special significance to the killer who ends up on a deliberate rampage in these woods. The killer, whose name is later revealed as Johnny (played by Ry Barrett), is a hulking corpse that has been awakened from the dead after the necklace was taken. Johnny was buried at the tower, but he is seen clawing his way out from underneath the ground.

In the movie’s opening scene, when the necklace was taken, Ehren mentions that this camping area is known for a massacre of people called the White Pines Slaughter, which happened years ago. Ehren is surprised that other people in the group have never heard about this massacre, and he says that he thought the notoriety of this slaughter was the main reason why the other people in the group wanted to go camping in this area. On their first night in the woods, around a campfire, Ehren tells more details about the White Pines Slaughter.

About 60 years ago, the area used to be the site of a thriving workplace for lumberjacks and loggers employed by a company that is not named in this story. Johnny’s father owned and operated a store in the area. The lumberjacks and loggers used to cruelly tease Johnny as a child because he had learning disabilities.

One day, some of these bullies told Johnny that there were toys in the tower, but it was a lie. When Johnny arrived at the tower and found no toys, he fell from the tower and died. Johnny’s father blamed the bullies and attacked those he believed were guilty of causing Johnny’s death. The bullies killed Johnny’s father but covered up the crime to make it look like an accident.

Shortly afterward, the entire population in this lumberjack/logger site was massacred. The company whose employees were killed, as well as the local police, determined that the deaths were from mass poisoning, even though the deaths looked like they were caused by a human or animal. In the last third of the movie, an unnamed woman (played by Lauren Taylor, also known as Lauren-Marie Taylor) has more to say about the history of this dangerous wooded area.

All of this is supposed to give some explanation for why Johnny might have a deadly vendetta. But there’s a scene when Johnny goes into the home of a man named Chuck (played by Timothy Paul McCarthy) and sees a gold necklace that looks similar to the one that was at the tower. In this scene, viewers find out that the necklace at the tower was a gift from Johnny’s mother.

The necklace is supposed to be a “trigger” for why Johnny has come back from the dead. The ending of “In a Violent Nature” might be too vague or abrupt from some viewers. However, people watching the movie should pay attention to what happens to the necklace in the last third of the film and in the very last image, in order to fully understand. It will give further insight into what Johnny really wants.

“In a Violent Nature” has plenty of bloody gore, including one particular murder that most viewers will remember about this slow-burn film. (Hint: This murder involves someone’s head and stomach.) In other words, this is not a movie for people who easily get squeamish at the sight of blood and vicious dismemberments.

There’s nothing particularly special about any of the acting in the movie. If there are any survivors, it’s a horror movie stereotype. And there’s one particular scene where the victims do something incredibly stupid, knowing that the killer is right in front of them. But even with these flaws, “In a Violent Nature” has enough suspenseful moments in the last third of the film to leave a haunting impression.

IFC Films will release “In a Violent Nature” in U.S. cinemas on May 31, 2024, with a sneak preview in U.S. cinemas on May 29, 2024.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix