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IN A VIOLENT NATURE [Chicago Critics Festival 2024]

Written By:

Anthony Oleszkiewicz

In modern cinemania, horror movie fans seek validation for their fandom. Too long, they say, has the canon rejected such great additions as Halloween III: Season of the Witch and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Companies with arthouse sensibilities like A24, Neon, and Monkeypaw, among others, have capitalised on this through the creation of ‘elevated horror’, a slang-level term for horror movies with typically slower pacing that are often excellent such as the works of Ari Aster and Jordan Peele. There’s no reason to define these movies separately; be proud of being horror, or don’t make horror.

Enter In a Violent Nature. In a film compared too favourably to the works of Terrence Malick and Jonathan Glazer, a killer is irreverently resurrected from undead sleep, dons a mask, grabs a distinctive weapon, and kills a ton of stock horny twenty-somethings in a lakeside cabin in the woods. It’s a familiar story with a gimmick: we follow his point of view for most of the runtime. It turns out that between kills, Jason, Michael Myers, and Leatherface et al. spend a lot of time just walking alone in the peaceful woods and experiencing unoriginal dialogue from afar.

The film takes the simple slasher formula and places it just out of focus, leaving those unoriginal bones untouched. There’s an old legend, plenty of stupid ‘bro’ dialogue, valley-girl escapades, a child-minded killer, a ranger with a shotgun… all the cliché writing packed into the margins of a story about a zombie taking a walk. Simply slowing the pacing of a film to a crawl doesn’t elevate it to a worthwhile art piece; in fact, it kills the ominous momentum of rollercoaster reactions most slashers can produce. This is not arthouse or elevated horror; it’s a boring failed experiment.


Anthony Oleszkiewicz

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