Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash makes his
directorial production debut with Nothing Left to Fear, about a preacher and his family who arrive in the rural town of Stull to start a new life. But even a Hellmouth can't make this little horror town interesting.
According to real-life local folklore, a graveyard in Stull, Kansas, serves as one of the gateways to Hell. That's the seed from which Nothing Left to Fear germinates. Dan (James Tupper) is a pastor who has uprooted his family from their city lives because he believes that God has called him to minister to the people of Kansas. They're a perfectly killable fivesome, with Dan accompanied by his wife (Anne Heche), teenage daughters Mary (Jennifer Stone) and Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes), and young son (Carter Cabassa). They get a warm welcome from the locals that assuages any fears they might have had about making such a big move. In their washed-out plaids and floral prints, they look like they'll fit right in.
But of course, Kansas was put on this Earth to be a receptacle for our religiously themed horrors, and soon the girls are plagued by prophetic nightmares. In the waking world, sheep are slaughtered and drained of blood, baked goods prove nefarious, and Stull's retired pastor (Clancy Brown) may not be so retired after all. As the sense of menace grows, Rebecca finds herself drawn to Noah (Ethan Peck), a young man whose presence in the town is a bit of a mystery.
There are actually quite a few interesting ideas swirling around Nothing Left to Fear, and it's worth watching if you're interested in picking apart the Judeo-Christian and pagan symbols—and the morality of what the people of Stull are doing—rather than in genuine scares. The film's chief sin, however, is that it utterly lacks texture. For all the time we spend with the family and in Stull, we don't really get to know either, so that when the violence starts, it's hard to feel afraid for anyone. Between that and the rather routine images of supernatural possession (which are largely featured on the movie's poster), rather than shuddering at the harm headed at Rebecca's family, we're impatient to get on with it so that we can find out what the literal heck is going on in this town.
It's a shame that the film keeps its focus so squarely on Rebecca without drifting out to the town as a whole. Living on a Hellmouth seems like a stressful (not to mention precarious) position to be in, and if Nothing Left to Fear had explored the impact on the other folks living in Stull, the film could have had a touch of truly chilling religious thrillers like Frailty. Ultimately, it's a film that will leave viewers with a bit to think about, but more for what it failed to include than for anything it shows on-screen.
Edit: I mistakenly credited Slash as the director of the film. He produced the film, which was directed by Anthony Leonardi III.
Nothing Left to Fear is currently running in a limited theatrical release, and is also available On Demand.