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Movie Review: Nothing Left to Fear (directed by Anthony Leonardi III)

Oct. 4, 2013by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: A pastor from the "big city" moves his family to a small town in Kansas, where he'll take over for a retiring preacher. Little does the family know, however, that they've been marked for ritualistic sacrifice by the town's elders... and the malevolent presence that lives amongst them.

REVIEW: You'd think the first film produced by Slash - yes, he of the top hat and Guns N Roses fame - would have a little more life and bite to it. But, disappointingly, NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR, which comes from Slash's newly formed production company, is a very standard tale of demonic doings in a creepy small town. It's a competently made feature, but there's nothing at all separating it from the pack of run-on-the-mill potboilers that we see in October.

And I'd be silly not to point out the elephant in the room, which is the title: There's NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR because it isn't at all scary... unless you somehow still find CGI ghost faces and slowly shambling possessed people frightening. Maybe the scariest thing about the movie is the odd presence of Anne Heche, who plays the family matriarch yet barely registers or has any significant lines of dialogue.

The film prides itself on being "inspired" by the legend of Stull, Kansas, which I knew nothing about beforehand and did not feel compelled to investigate after. I'm unsure if the legend involved a preacher (played by James Tupper) moving his family - wife, son and two teenage daughters - to a bland but quaint little town in the middle of nowhere with residents that happen to worship a devilish entity living underneath it, but Anthony Leonardi III's movie does. Apparently Stull is, wait for it, the gateway to hell (or something close to it), and as soon as Pastor Dan moves his kin into the neighborhood, they're marked for doom by the kindly folks who populate the place.

The unofficial "leader" of the town is Kingsman, a preacher played by Clancy Brown, which should always be a tip-off that something just isn't right. (Just kidding, it's the fact that everyone around here acts so damn weird that should be the tip-off). Pastor Dan's daughters, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone) almost immediately begin to experience strange phenomena, from Rebecca's strange visions to Mary's receiving of a cake with a gigantic tooth in it. Naturally, this is one of those movies where the parents have no clue what's going on until it's way too late. Maybe if they had paid more heed to the grim nature of the first thing they see when they approach their new house - a young man slitting a sheep's throat on the side of the road - they would have been more prepared for the evil scenario they ultimately find themselves in.

What the creepy townsfolk are up to is preparing the family for a sacrifice that involves one of the daughters becoming possessed by an unholy spirit. To be perfectly honest, I don't know if it was sheer boredom overtaking me or if the movie isn't clear on what exactly is happening, but I was thoroughly at a loss as to why this town behaves in such a gruesome manner - other than the standard "most small towns are ominous and not to be trusted" rationale that most horror movies operate under. Frankly, it doesn't matter, because NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR is devoid of excitement or novelty.

I'm not sure how much input Slash had on this venture - he's just listed as producer, while Jonathan W.C. Mills is credited as the sole writer - but this is a rather banal project for him to lay his claim to. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more wild and vivid, something in the Rob Zombie vein (not that I'm particularly yearning for more of that, but at least Zombie's personality is evident on his pictures). Instead, NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR plays out like a weak X-Files episode that doesn't even have Mulder and Scully to save it.

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