Monday, December 2, 2013

Mindless Movie Monday: Nothing Left To Fear (except mediocrity)


Ever heard of Stull, Kansas? Probably not, but this small town just a stone’s throw from Topeka was the inspiration for the 2013 film Nothing Left to Fear, produced by Guns N’ Roses guitarist, Slash; although you’d probably never guess that after watching it.

Nothing Left to Fear follows a picture perfect family of two daughters, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone), a young son (Carter Cabassa), and sunny mother Wendy (Anne Heche) and her husband Dan (James Tupper, Heche's real-life partner as well) who has been chosen as the town’s new pastor. The family is instantly welcomed into the tight-knit community, receiving almost a little too much hospitality.

Dan is replacing the revered Pastor Kingsman, played by one of my favorite genre actors, Clancy Brown (Pet Sematary 2, Hellbenders, TV's Sleepy Hollow). While Kingsman takes Dan under his wing as he predecessor, Rebecca is getting to know the town hottie, Noah (Ethan Peck). Behind closed doors we are able to see that things are not as pleasant and peaceful as they seem, and Kingsman is encouraging some dark task upon Noah, who, naturally, plays it cool around his sweetheart.

At the same time, sister Mary has become the target of some strange events, and is being plagued by nightmares of the neighbors crowding silently outside her windows, and slack-jawed, hollow-eyed demons. It isn’t until she is kidnapped from the local carnival and subjected to a mysterious occult ritual that she becomes one of these hellions, and the sinister nature of the town is revealed.

The “real” legend of Stull condemns it as one of the seven gates to hell. The diabolical portal resides in the cemetery, founded in the late 1800’s. In Stull Cemetery there’s an old stone church (well, was, it was torn down in 2002) that is the rumored location of occult gatherings, rituals, and a hidden staircase that leads straight down to Hell, itself.

That is pretty much the extent of the legend, other than a few additional creepy little tidbits that will vary from whom you hear the story. The Hellmouth of Stull has also inspired the 2001 film Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal and an episode of Supernatural.

Upon hearing of this legend I was instantly drawn to Nothing Left to Fear because of my love of urban legends and modern folklore. However, the film turned out to be quite a disappointment, and not only for the fact that the legend serves no greater purpose than a “based on a true story” tagline. Rather than explore the ins and outs of life in the Hellmouth, we are forced to watch a boring film progress very slowly with no tension, texture, or terror developed.

Nothing Left to Fear is both director Anthony Leonardi III and writer Jonathan W.C. Mills' first feature film, and this could be the reason why the whole movie felt very awkward to me. The editing (sight and sound) left me feeling confused and detached from the narrative—which is easy to do when there is hardly a plot to grasp, at all.

A myriad of interesting ideas are neglected and the result is a bland, muddled mush with cheesy CGI and flat characters.

1 comment:

: said...

Filmmakers REALLY need to stop with the yawning, black-eyed/black-mouthed CGI ghosts/demons. It's not scary, and it's been overdone since not long after DEAD BIRDS did it (and how long ago was that one released)? Sigh . . . .