Nothing Left to Fear (2013) d. Anthony Leonardi III (USA)
When a new pastor (James Tupper) arrives with his wife (Anne Heche) andfamily at the dust blown borders of Stull, Kansas to head up the local congregation, he finds himself unwittingly caught up in a mysterious Wicker Man-type conspiracy with specific designs for his two daughters, Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone) Unfortunately, despite screenwriter Jonathan W.C. Mills’ attempts to do something different with the “insiders/outsiders” tropes, the enterprise is submarined by director Anthony Leonardi III’s misdirection of his ensemble and misguided overuse of humdrum swirling black CGI tendrils.
On the behind-the-scenes segment of Anchor Bay’s recent DVD/Blu-ray combo, there is a universal chorus of approval for Mills’ script, so it’s sad that whatever was so magical on the page is lost in translation. For starters, the performances range from blah to bland and back to blah. Heche headlines, though she’s given nothing to do except good naturedly smile, smirk and smart aleck as Christian Suzy Homemaker.
Similarly, Tupper is so vanilla he ought to come with his own wafer cone. Brandes and Stone as our two sisters are spunky and spirited enough, but they are thinly drawn and soon become nothing more than cogs in the wheel. Veteran Clancy Brown brings his trademark gravitas to the mix as Stull’s retiring minister, but it’s all too apparent all too soon that his intentions are far from godly. But the worst offender is Ethan Peck, whose leaden dull line deliveries nearly put me to sleep every time he opened his well chiseled jaw.
This is a case where the bells and whistles destroy the decent campfire tale at the core. Oddly enough, Stone chatters on about how much she enjoyed the fact that f/x house Spectral Motion would be employing practical effects, but the swirling clouds of CGI tarn and “sweetened” menace surrounding her supplant the tactile impact. Leonardi clearly doesn’t understand what makes horror work, only how to play at it.
Boo scares, odd looks and jump cuts abound, but these mechanical by-the-numbers tactics result in nothing more than an efficient but forgettable made-for-cable movie, as blandly nondescript as its snoozy title. For the record, the unmemorable score is by Nicholas O’Toole and Guns n’ Roses’ Slash, who also co-produced.
Nothing Left to Fear is available now for purchase from Anchor Bay Entertainment.