Judge Daryl Loomis feels there's nothing left to fear but heights, small rodents, butterflies, etc.
Let us prey.
You might remember him from such awesome guitar solos as "Paradise City" and "Nightrain," but now, Slash is in a whole new game. He has started his own production company, Slasher Films, and its first release has arrived. One would think that, given how fellow rocker Rob Zombie has approached his horror films, that Nothing Left to Fear might be a brutal and sadistic display of violence, but Slash is only the producer and the movie is anything but. It's not a particularly great piece of horror, but it's a fine first effort for both the production company and director Anthony Leonard III.
Facts of the Case
Pastor Dan (James Tupper, Mr. Popper's Penguins) has brought his wife, Wendy (Anne Heche, Wag the Dog), and his three children to the tiny town of Stull, Kansas, to take over as the new preacher of the local church. When they arrive, the whole town shows up to welcome them and help them move into their beautiful new home. Almost immediately, though, the two daughters, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes, Midnight Movie) and Mary (Jennifer Stone, Wizards of Waverly Place), start experiencing supernatural phenomena. Rebecca is having troubling dreams, while Mary's situation is much worse. She is slowly being possessed by a demon and, at the same time, the townspeople have a deadly plan for her and the rest of her family.
Instead of the more common claim of a movie being based on true events, a claim that is nearly always B.S., Nothing Left to Fear makes the less absurd claim of basing its story on the legend of Stull, Kansas. In case you haven't heard of it, Stull is a tiny unincorporated town a few miles outside of Lawrence, Kansas. For over a century, there have been claims of witchery, murder, and the supernatural emerging from the old cemetery. People even go so far as to say that the cemetery is one of the seven gateways to Hell, with a staircase that Satan ascends each Halloween and Spring Equinox to, I dunno, hang out with the gravestones, I guess.
Anyway, writer Jonathan W.C. Mills has expanded that idea to involve a town-wide conspiracy and demonic possession, which doesn't have anything to do with the legends as far as I can tell, but these two bits make for a compelling horror storyline. Though one can fairly easily tell that things aren't going to go so great for the pastor and his family, the plot moves methodically, getting us involved in the characters and their lives before the horror really starts. Doing this one thing, something that many horror writers and directors overlook, gives viewers the time to care about them, making the payoff all the more satisfying.
Now, Nothing Left to Fear isn't anything particularly great, but it's an atmospheric film with good performances wrapped around a decent concept. The effects aren't terribly impressive, but they work to get the point across. They're more of the Japanese style tendril effects than splatter stuff, which is just fine by me; it adds more to the atmosphere and mood. It isn't really particularly scary, but it's moody and fairly well made, especially for its budget and the experience of the people involved. Given that, not only do I support the movie, but I look forward to more productions from Slash and company.
Nothing Left to Fear comes to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay in a decent release. The 2.35:1/1080p image transfer is generally quite good, with a crisp and clean transfer, nice flesh tones and relatively deep black levels. It's not going to knock your socks off, but the sound might. The Dolby TrueHD surround mix is a booming affair, with very clear dialog and a good platform for the Slash and Nicholas O'Toole score. There's very strong use of the surround channels and a lot of work in the low end. It has great dynamic range and the mix does a lot to help with immersion in the film.
Extras are limited to a decent but unremarkable audio commentary with Slash, Leonard, and O'Toole and a brief behind the scenes featurette. The supplements are nothing special, but the commentary is probably worth a listen.
There's nothing about Nothing Left to Fear that would remind one of classic horror, but it's a decent classy genre picture that trades on atmosphere over sex and gore. As a first feature for both the director and producer, it would have been easier and maybe more marketable to go the latter route and I appreciate what they've done. Horror fans going in expecting a big body count and a bunch of blood might walk away disappointed, but it's otherwise a perfectly recommendable picture. Very decent stuff.
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