Nothing Left to Fear (2014)

Nothing Left to Fear is very well directed, with superb cinematography, decent character work, decent effects and a beautiful slow build full of tension and intrigue… but unfortunately a complete lack of ‘reason’, a sprinkling of clichés, some overblown CGI and a creaking ending makes Nothing Left to Fear a frustrating watch.

When the pastel-shaded Bramford family arrive at the small-town of Stull, they quickly find the residents to be absurdly helpful and overly-kind. Perhaps it’s because Dan Bramford (James Tupper) is the new pastor – taking over from Pastor Kingsman (Clancy Brown) – or maybe that’s just the small town way.

But something is wrong with Stull. Very wrong. The townsfolk hide a dark secret and when Mary Bramford (Jennifer Stone) starts to get sick, her sister Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) begins to realize something demonic might be lying in Stull…

Unfortunately the plot has something missing. Mostly sense. It asks a lot of intriguing, scary questions but doesn’t really bother to answer them. Like what? Well, why does the town do this? Apparently because God told them to. Erm….

Other questions that arose and were never answered were (SPOILERS!):

Who was the weird fat guy always watching Rebecca? What were the ‘rules’ behind the evil? Why did Clancy Brown bleed when the possessed girl got injured? Why did they summon the evil in order to banish it? Why does Rebecca willingly decide to help them at the end? How come all the families that were hiding inside their houses (behind big red crosses) and then magically appeared in a disused building at the end? How often does this happen? Yearly?! Does an entire family of religious folk go missing every single year?! Seems unlikely…

Yeah, so there’s a LOT of answered questions, and for a film that is about 50 minutes of build, you’d expect a little more explanation behind the plotting / motivating factors of an entire town (even if you know about the legends of Stull). Even at 80 minutes you’re questioning what Mary is capable of, what she wants and how vulnerable she is. I still don’t know.

If you’re able to get past the frustrating lack of clarity, then Nothing Left to Fear is a genuinely enjoyable little horror film. Creepy, tense, well-acted, with excellent cinematography and a couple of superb dream sequences, this feels like a slickly made, professional production.

Casting wise it’s always good to see Clancy Brown – despite playing another ‘evil clergyman’ figure – and leading ladies Rebekah Brandes and Jennifer Stone are very good. Anne Heche (remember her?!) is given a short shrift as their slightly forgettable mother, although she does play the mum-of-the-century with believable joy.

Considering Nothing Left to Fear marks the feature film debuts of both director Anthony Leonardi III and writer Jonathan W.C. Mills, this is an impressive launch-pad for them both. Apart from plotting and clarity issues, it’s a decent debut.

One bug-bear of mine is how Nothing Left to Fear uses the ‘stretchy-jaw-scream’ effect when Mary gets possessed (see poster above), which was first over-used in I Am Legend and seemingly copy and pasted into every possession / infected human movie since. Personally I find it looks cheap, silly and utterly needless.

Thankfully, however, Nothing Left to Fear uses a blend of CGI and practical SFX. Although the possessed girl billows smoke and seeps darkness, she also has some horrible, crusty, claw-like protrusions growing from her face! Although effectively done, the CGI is overwhelming and overblown, detracting completely from Jennifer Stone’s performance and dilutes Spectral Motions excellent practical SFX work.

Nothing Left to Fear is a product of ‘Slasher Films’, a terribly monickered film company… until you realize its run by Guns ‘n’ Roses legend Slash. Unlike Rob Zombie, however, Slash seems comfortable – so far – to keep away from the director’s chair (and also hasn’t shamelessly cast his wife). As a debut it’s not an embarrassing one and hopefully they’ve learnt a LOT from this production. The future will let us know.

Yeah, so despite the confusing ending and muddled reasoning (for the entire plot), the end credits do feature a pretty damn good Slash song called “Nothing Left to Fear”, written by Slash and Myles Kennedy and performed by Slash, Myles Kennedy and Nicholas O’Toole. Thanks Slash. You rock.

Nothing Left to Fear is an enjoyable, intriguing, dark and foreboding horror featuring decent performances and great cinematography. The explosion of CGI and a deeply confusing ‘reasoning’ for the plot means this will quickly slip into the bargain bins. Despite this, it is definitely worth a watch.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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