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Nothing Left to Fear (2013)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/8/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/11/2013
Casually peruse any movie discussion site and you're bound to see many discussions about movie budgets. Film fans, especially those who really follow the box office results of movies, love to talk about how much movies cost, especially if the movie was rather cheap or exceedingly expensive. However, they rarely discuss exactly where that money comes from. There are a lot of investors who like to put their money into show business, and some of the names are familiar. Slash, guitarist for bands such as Guns 'n Roses and Velvet Revolver, has started a production company called Slasher Films, and his goal is to focus on low-budget horror movies. The company's first effort, Nothing Left to Fear, has just been released. Does Slash have another hit on his hands?
Nothing Left to Fear opens with Dan (James Tupper) and Wendy (Anne Heche) arriving in Stull, Kansas, along with their children, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes), Mary (Jennifer Stone), and Christopher (Carter Cabassa). Dan is the new minister in town, taking over from Pastor Kingsman (Clancy Brown). The townspeople make the family feel welcome, helping them to move in and providing food. Rebecca finds herself drawn to Noah (Ethan Peck), a quiet local who appears to be hiding a secret. As the family begins to settle in and Dan starts his work with the church, Rebecca and Mary attempt to find something to do in town. Rebecca begins to have bizarre nightmares and Mary becomes ill. Is there some sort of dark force in Stull?
In case you aren't familiar with it, Stull, Kansas is a real place which is the subject of many urban legends. The cemetery there is said to be a portal to hell. A famous legend states that when Pope John Paul II visited the United States, he ordered his plane to avoid flying over Kansas because of Stull. The town has been featured on Supernatural. The front cover art for Nothing Left to Fear claims that the film is "Inspired by the Legend of Stull Kansas". The movie is set in Stull, but the film does nothing to explore any "legend", urban or otherwise. The history of the town is not explored, no gate to hell is mentioned and nothing is done to make Stull seem special in any way.
Instead, what we get is a very lackluster and hackneyed attempt at a supernatural horror film. Without giving too much away, let's just say that the citizens of Stull are part of a doomsday cult of sorts and they have nefarious plans for the new family. However, Director Anthony Leornardi III and Writer Jonathan W.C. Mills have no idea how to tell this story. The first half of the film plays like any other movie of this ilk -- the new family comes to town, the locals are a little bit too friendly, everyone seems to be hiding something, etc. The movie seems to be following the Harvest Home or The Stepford Wives playbook as closely as it can, except there's no feeling of menace at all in the beginning.
Then, the movie takes an odd turn and not only becomes a different movie, but stops making any sense all together. Again, I don't want to divulge any surprises, but the people of Stull have to make a sacrifice, which creates a monster, and that monster must then be destroyed in order to save everyone. So, why create the monster in the first place? The movie goes from being a psychological supernatural piece to a full-blown horror movie with a demon roaming the streets. I must admit that some of the latter scenes do create some suspense, and there are some surprising deaths, but the third act simply doesn't make any sense and it reminded me a lot of the latter half of Prince of Darkness.
The film is also uneven when it comes to its level of overall quality. Anne Heche, Clancy Brown, and James Tupper (who will be familiar to viewers ofRevenge) all do well in the lead roles, and Rebekah Brandes is fairly good in her performance. But, Ethan Peck, who is Gregory Peck's grandson, drags the movie down when he is on-screen. His mumbling, hesitant performance doesn't gel with the rest of the film and he acts as if it's the first time he's ever been on screen. For the most part, Leonardi does an OK job with shooting the film, but some of the editing is questionable. I knew that I was in trouble when the movie opened with a scene in which it's implied that two people who are at least 100 yards apart are making eye contact. And the less said about the bored extras in the carnival scene, the better. It's great that Slash has decided to throw his (top) hat into the movie producing ring, but I hope that his next project is a better film.
Nothing Left to Fear spreads the CG black ooze on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. Some of the shots in the third act are a little too dark, but the action is always visible. The colors look good and the daytime scenes have a nice crispness to them. The picture is a bit soft at times, but the depth is good. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue (save for Peck's mumbling) and sound effects. There are plenty of "shock" sounds which come through the surround channels and trigger the subwoofer. The stereo effects show good separation and we get some nice examples of sounds coming from off-screen.
The Nothing Left to Fear Blu-ray Disc contains two extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Anthony Leonard III, Producer/Composer Slash, and Composer Nicholas O'Toole. The other extra is "Nothing Left to Fear: Behind the Scenes" (16 minutes) contains comments from several members of the cast and creative team, including Slash, who speaks to the music, but also mentions that he liked the script's "originality". We hear about how the film came about, the characters, and the look of the film.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.