Nothing Left to Fear: Film Review
Anthony Leonardi III
Jonathan W.C. Mills
Anne Heche, James Tupper, Ethan Peck, Jennifer Stone, Clancy Brown
A family faces malevolent forces in the heartland in this horror film marking the debut release from Slash's production company.
A typical guitar solo by Slash is more visceral than the debut horror film from his aptly named production company Slasher Films. Receiving a token theatrical release before its imminent arrival on DVD and VOD, Nothing Left to Fear marks an inauspicious start for his new enterprise. Unlike his fellow rocker-filmmaker Rob Zombie, the former Guns N' Roses guitarist has limited his contributions here to producing and co-composing the soundtrack.
Inspired by the "Legend of Stull, Kansas" -- you'll have to check it out on Wikipedia -- the film concerns a new family's arrival in the small heartland town. They are Dan (James Tupper), his wife, Wendy (Anne Heche), their teenage daughter, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes), and her younger sister, Mary (Jennifer Stone). Dan is slated to become the new preacher, replacing the retiring Pastor Kingsman (Clancy Brown).
That things are different in this neck of the woods is immediately signified by Rebecca's spotting teenage farmhand Noah (Ethan Peck) slaughtering a sheep. But her squeamishness upon seeing the copious amounts of spilled blood is handily offset by her realization that young Noah is quite the hunk.
The town's inhabitants welcome the new family into their midst, but it isn't long before things seriously begin to go awry. Rebecca finds herself tormented by horrific visions, including one of being attacked by malevolent sheep. And Mary becomes possessed by a demonic force, transforming her into a CGI-enhanced creature with a face that looks like it could have been painted by Edvard Munch.
It turns out the family has been lured to town merely for the purpose of becoming the latest human sacrifices to a satanic force that apparently lives inside a dark pool of water. Will Dan and his family escape their intended fate? Will anyone other than the most hardcore horror aficionados care?
Spending an inordinate amount of screen time on the burgeoning romance between the two camera-friendly teens, this sluggishly paced horror film from first-time director Anthony Leonardi III fails to do justice to its overly familiar, Wicker Man-style premise.
Real-life couple Tupper and Heche seemed to have taken on their nondescript roles merely for the opportunity to work together, while the younger performers go through their prescribed paces with barely concealed boredom. More scares are induced by the creepy soundtrack composed by Slash and Nicholas O'Toole than by the perfunctory special effects.
Opens Oct. 4 (Anchor Bay Films)
Production: Slasher Films, Movie Package Company, Prime Focus LTD, Midlife Crisis Productions
Cast: Anne Heche, James Tupper, Rebekah Brandes, Ethan Peck, Jennifer Stone, Clancy Brown
Director: Anthony Leonardi III
Screenwriter: Jonathan W.C. Mills
Producers: Slash, Alison Palmer, Todd Dagres, Michael Williams, Rob Eric
Executive producers: Sanjeev Advani, Michael Villarreal, Ricky Budhrani, Nick Thurlow, Andrew Mann, Kevin Kasha, Jamie Carmichael, Shaun Redick, Ray Mansfield, Glenn M. Stewart
Director of photography: Martin Coppen
Editor: Howard E. Smith
Production designer: Deborah Riley
Costume designer: Jo Kissack
Composers: Slash, Nicholas O'Toole
Rated R, 100 min.