In a Violent Nature Director Chris Nash Talks 'Yoga Kill', Horror Influence & More (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
In a Violent Nature, Chris Nash, yoga kill

The director of Shudder’s unique 2024 horror film In a Violent Nature sat down with The Direct to discuss bringing that viral yoga kill to life and exploring a slasher from the killer’s point of view.

The story follows Johnny, a restless spirit and vengeful force of nature who is awakened from his slumber after a group of young adults disturb a golden locket lying around a collapsed fire tower where his grizzly death occurred decades before.

Little do they know of its importance, which leads them to fall into the brutal gaze of the Jason Vorhees-esque killer.

Exploring the Killer’s Perspective in a Violent Nature

yoga kill in the movie In a Violent Nature
IFC Films

In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, In a Violent Nature director Chris Nash broke down the movie's viral yoga kill and the many horror inspirations for the film.

In a Violent Nature has some truly brutal kills throughout its runtime. One such kill involves the killer using meat hooks to thread a victim's head (who had been doing yoga just before) through a hole he had punched in the poor soul's own stomach.

Needless to say, it needs to be seen to be believed.

In talking about the yoga kill, for the director, the goal was "to see something [he’d] never seen before:"

"That kill was designed in a way where I, you know, first off, I wanted to see something that I'd never seen before. And that goes for everything. Another aspect of it is, I've got a background in process effects design, and our prosthetics builder and designer, seek Sanski, who is also a director in his own right. So he thinks very, very similar to me. We always want to challenge ourselves and do things that we haven't really seen or done before. And create these moments that we want to see or want to be impressed by when we're watching films."

Nash added how, in this instance, they wanted to accentuate a kill that simply "couldn’t be replicated with a machete:"

"But also, for the threading the needle thing, I wanted to have a death, or a kill, that couldn't be replicated with a machete. He's got these hooks, he's got these big, meaty hooks that are strong. I was just like, 'There's got to be something that happens where these hooks are used uniquely' and do away with this hapless victim in a way that is specific to the hooks."

But with how intensely gore-driven the movie can be, did the creative team ever get to the point where they went too far?

According to Nash, the answer to that question was that they "always [went] as hard as [they could]," with the filmmaker elaborating on how those violent deaths are "where the spectacle is of the film:"

"It was always as hard as we can, whenever we can. That's where the spectacle is of the film. And to me, myself and my producing partners, Shannon Hanmer and Peter Kuplowsky, we know so much of the film is, it is not necessarily an experimental film, but we were kind of conducting an experiment. We were making it [thinking], ‘What's this going to be like following a slasher through this?’ So, there's always the risk of, this isn't gonna work at all on any level. So we better have some nasty kills. We better have something, that little bit of sugar to make the medicine go down…"

Opening up about the slashers that inspired his new film, director Chris Nash noted that there was "a lot" of them that they pulled from, including elements from My Bloody Valentine and The Burning:

"But, also a lot of the slashers that have been existence, we're just peeling from their iconography too. So, there are like elements in the mask, for instance, of like the miners mask in 'My Bloody Valentine.' I think in a lot of ways, our slasher, Johnny, is taking just as much from Cropsy (from 'The Burning') as he is from Jason."

Of course, Friday the 13’s hockey-masked Jason Vorhees is a huge inspiration for the piece. The iconic killer is well known for hunting down young victims as they enjoy themselves in the woods, usually as part of a summer camp (namely Camp Crystal Lake).

"He’s the first real slasher as a kid I attached to," the filmmaker admitted, noting how there are "so many different Jasons to take from:"

"Jason's gonna be at the front of the pack, for a lot of reasons. Also, just because he's the first real slasher as a kid I attached to. The iconography is just, it's too much to pass over… When you're talking Jason, there's so many different Jasons to take from/ At this point now, Jason is its own weird mythology of like, going through film to film and getting reinvented almost in every movie."

Another big inspiration according to the director was Gerald Kargl’s Angst, a story that also follows a killer:

"One of the big [stylistic inspirations] was Gerald Kargl's 'Angst,' which, from a technical standpoint, has its fingers deeply 'In A Violent Nature,' which is not so much of a slasher, but in a way, kind of a slasher. It just follows a serial killer, or like a murderer, or just mentally unwell person being released from an institution and going about their day. The camera follows them through the entire film, just breaking into a house and doing away with a family. And then it ends with them being caught. And the whole thing is just following this one character, the entire film in a very similar way. Except, there's narration of his inner monologue during the whole thing. Like, Johnny doesn't think too much."

Following the perspective of an unstoppable horror slasher villain isn’t easy to do, and conveying that through the filmmaking process was a learning process for everyone involved.

One of the things they learned how to balance "was the distance that [they] had to keep from him:"

"One of the things that we learned was the distance that we had to keep from him. It was kind of an interesting trial and error that we went through where at some points in time, we were very, very close to him, or at least a lot closer, but one of the techniques that we tried to maintain the whole time was we want to see as much Johnny in the frame as possible."

While some moments in the film do bring the audiences into Johnny’s story in an intimate way, for the most part, "we’re objective viewers:"

"There were points where we started following him from waist high, and it was just too big. It felt like we were too close to him, almost. And we realized, so much of the effectiveness of what we were trying to do, like what our thesis statement was at the beginning, can only be derived from stepping back further and being much, much more objective..."

The director went on to joke that the movie is "more of a nature documentary:"

"Even though it feels you know, you'd want to, in a knee jerk way, describe that as like, 'No, we're staying with the killer the entire time.' It's like no, we're not really with the killer. There are moments where we are very intimate with Johnny. But for the most part, we're staying away. We're objective viewers. It's more of a nature documentary."

In a Violent Nature releases in theaters on May 31, 2024 from IFC films. The movie is slated for a streaming release at some point later this year.

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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.