Wednesday, July 3, 2024


The older I get the more I like to talk about and dissect interesting films that I feel are a mixed bag of qualities that I love, dislike and am indifferent towards. Unfortunately the term “interesting” is commonly associated with something negative. Nowadays when someone says something is “interesting” it feels like an insult. It’s the kind of term someone uses when they have nothing of substance to describe something that's remotely different. It didn’t used to be like that. Interesting used to be a positive descriptor. We need to remove the negativity surrounding it. Chris Nash’s In A Violent Nature fits my description of interesting to a tee. On a surface level – the film is a somewhat deconstructed slasher story told from the killer’s perspective. There’s no conventional score or soundtrack, there’s stretches of the movie that have no dialogue, and the movie pulls from a lot of non-horror movies for inspiration. There are just as many if not more movie references & homages than a Tarantino film. The difference here is that Nash pulls from very specific sources that hold a special place in my heart (Terrence Malick, Alan Clarke, Gus Van Sant, etc). Ironically, part of my issue with this movie is it feels like it was made just for me. The first time I watched it I kept thinking to myself; “who else was this made for besides me??” I say that as a negative because a lot of films & directors I appreciate aren’t often associated with each other. There isn’t much of a Venn diagram that combines low budget Slashers, contemplative-era Terrence Malick and the realistic documentary-style of Alan Clarke.

I looked at a lot of the key movie references in a previous post from earlier this year (CLIK HERE TO READ) but the one thing I didn’t really get in to is that the references are a bit layered. 
Yes – Nash was influenced by Gus Van Sant’s 2002-2007 run, but those Van Sant films were influenced by Bela Tarr.

Well, I came to the idea just inspired a lot by Gus Van Sant's trilogy, of GERRY, ELEPHANT, and LAST DAYS. I just love those films - Chris Nash, dreadcentral

Scott Macaulay, who works at Forensic Films, was over at my house and told me that Sátántangó was playing at BAM that weekend. It was exactly what I needed to see at that exact moment in my life. It also summed up some things that I’d been thinking about for a long time and been influenced by but never put to use – Gus Van Sant, slant magazine
Satantango / Elephant / In A Violent Nature

Nash mentions Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible as another influence but Noe was influenced by the 1983 film; Angst (another film Nash shouts out). Specifically the overhead shots...

They showed me Gerald Kargl's 'Angst' - Ry Barrett, Indiewire

For me, I was thinking of Irréversible too, just the way the viewer is an onlooker for the whole thing - Ry Barrett, Indiewire
Angst / Irreversible / In A Violent Nature

The same layered influence goes back to Van Sant. This time by way of Alan Clarke...

Also Alan Clarke’s tv film ELEPHANT. That definitely had an influence on Van Sant as well - Chris Nash,
Elephant / Elephant / In A Violent Nature

The movie references are actually my favorite aspect of In A Violent Nature. I love a good “movie mixtape”.

Earlier I used the term “deconstructed” but that doesn’t mean Chris Nash is trying to reinvent the genre or play in to the that “elevated horror” label. Quite the opposite. The problem is - no matter how many times Nash spoke out against the idea of “reinventing the genre”, critics still continue to use that tagline in their reviews. In A Violent Nature certainly has its fans and I think the movie’s run has been positive overall, but I think certain specific critics are doing the film a disservice by constantly saying the movie is “subverting the genre” or “reinventing the genre”. I think it’s setting up some audiences to be disappointed. In A Violent Nature doesn’t fit in with those NEON/A24-aesthtic horror films. And while it definitely leans in to the classics like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the movie is also very slow and meditative at times. When you take away the gore elements, In A Violent Nature fits in more with the films of James Benning.

Personally, I think the film falls short when it comes to the supporting characters. I found their performances flat & distracting. Considering the movie is told from the killer’s perspective, it would’ve made more sense if the supporting characters/victims had no direct/clear dialogue at all. Almost like background noise. There was also no need to give any backstory on the killer. It would have also been nice if the movie leaned even more in to the “slow cinema” that it tried to emulate. Imagine a three hour long movie with even less kills and more nature. But I understand that would alienate even more potential viewers. Most folks don’t want to sit through a three hour slow slasher film with almost no direct dialogue. And that’s not the movie Chris Nash wanted to make. Going back to what I said earlier – I think because this movie was so coincidentally catered to my specific taste, I feel I have the right to say what could have made it better even though that’s a very selfish & insane claim to make. 
At the end of the day – this is just one man’s opinion. What do I know? The movie has made a profit and I’m rooting for Chris Nash to succeed at the end of the day. Even though I haven’t given this movie a glowing review, I’ve still dedicated two separate posts and a podcast appearance on it. Anyone with any common sense or nuance can tell that I have respect for Nash and his film. No matter what criticisms I have – I look forward to what he does next.


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