Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nothing Left to Fear

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I disagree, there is something left to fear...a possible sequel.

Nothing Left to Fear – 1 out of 5

I’m not entirely sure what the title of this incredibly generic horror film is trying to allude to (maybe it is its own sly way of distancing itself after it’s revealed that the film isn’t scary and barely worth being called a horror movie and the title, the entire time, was trying to tell us the genre of horror literally has nothing left for us to fear) but I do know this: Slash—yes, that Slash from Guns N’ Roses and top hat fame—founded a production company that specializes (“specializes” being a relative term here) in horror movies and he creatively called it Slasher Films. The groan that just escaped your lips is natural and not something to worry about. Like Rob Zombie before him, the rocker Slash thinks being able to shred like a mad man on the guitar and make killer music somehow makes him knowledgeable on making movies. Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.  At least Rob Zombie has a creative eye for horror movies...but, thankfully, Slash didn't attempt to direct this one; he just produced it.

Nothing Left to Fear is about a preacher who takes his family to a small town in Kansas where the local holy man; Kingsman (Clancy Brown), is retiring and needs someone to lead his parish. Once there, his daughters; Mary (Jennifer Stone) and Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes), start to experience some wicked stuff (wicked in the most broad of terms here since this film is not really keen on trying to scare you—but I’ll get to that later). Soon, Rebecca becomes infatuated with a local mysterious boy named Noah (Ethan Peck) but while she is playing kissy-face with the local bland boy with a voice that’s so deep one has to wonder if time for him moves slower than it does for others or, perhaps, he has a few extra testicles on him, Mary is kidnapped by some of the townies and is seemingly possessed by a dark evil that seems to have a past with the town and some sort of control through fear over the locals. Now Rebecca is in a race for her life as her sister is no longer the person she interacted awkwardly with for the first half of the film and now must try to save herself and the rest of her family.

"There can be only true God, I mean."

This is one of those movies that it is a gigantic injustice to horror films because literally nothing about it is scary and the film’s story is sloppy at best. There isn't a thing in this film that works—absolutely nothing. There’s barely a story working in it and the film doesn’t have much of a plot; even when there is some sort of hazy recollection of these filmmaking and storytelling elements, they feel lifted from other films or feel like they are just slapped together because it’s clear Slasher Films knows nothing about making movies. For example, nothing in the film’s barely-there story is explained—and I don’t mean that in a good, ambiguous, “This movie allows the viewer to piece together their own arguments and allows for numerous interpretations” type of not explaining things. I mean this movie just plain didn’t give a fuck.

**Warning: Minor spoilers ahead and watch out for falling rocks**

In the film, it’s hinted that this town in Kansas has the gateway to Hell and a sacrifice must be made to appease the dark lords that come to our mortal world. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with that beyond the fact it’s been done—HOWEVER, the problem occurs when we see the town simultaneously have Mary possessed through some sort of ritual and then actively work to have the demon banished through a ceremony involving Rebecca. Not to nitpick an already deflated story but if the town has to actively work to get the demon into our world, why bother going through the process of getting the monster into the mortal world and then making the sacrifices needed and the headaches that occur to get rid of it?

"Son, what could possibly go wrong in a state where you can legally marry
your 15 year old cousin?"

The film never makes it clear that the evil from the Netherworld is a threat and would push its way into our world if not given a host. Other than Clancy Brown’s character saying he’s doing what must be done, the film flat-out refuses to show any tension or explain that if they don’t do something that is very obvious in the fact it doesn’t actually need to be done, they'll bring doom upon themselves for not acting. I understand the film is trying to make some point about human sacrifice and loves to throw in a few allusions to the Old Testament (not too many, though…they’re not trying to make something note worthy here) but the film is its own undoing as they make no point in showing, hinting or explaining why the town is doing this.  Other than some throw away lines about how they call this demon their lord, there's not much explanation going on...and then it only gets more confusing when you focus on how they unleashed their lord only to try and get rid of them. The movie basically feels like it goes out of its way to show you that the town is just involving itself into a supernatural circle-jerk.

Okay, so the story sucks major balls, that much is clear but certainly the acting must be alright…except it’s not. Ethan Peck is flat and emotionless as Noah and that just ends up working further against the story as Noah is suppose to be a mysterious stranger in the town. His lifeless performances denotes more boredom of small town living and a lack of social skills than someone who is keeping secrets. Watching the movie, I, for the life of me, couldn’t understand why Rebecca would have any interest in the man at all.  Yes, his role is kinda important to the lifeless, lethargic story but when you have an actor who isn't even worth watching as an extra, it's hard to submit yourself to the story and involve your attention into it.

It doesn't even matter if his backstory is interesting, he talks like he's in perpetual
slow motion so there's no way I could possible keep my attention focused.

Then you have the two sisters played by Rebekah Brandes and the girl who only took the role in order to escape being type cast as the unfunny best friend that she played annoyingly in Wizards of Waverly Place, Jennifer Stone. These two, flat out, can’t act to save their lives but things only get worse when you have to endure the torture of witnessing them interact with each other. 

"A horror I can finally escape from The Mouse!"

They're suppose to be sisters who have literally known each other all of their existence (well, the younger one may not known SOME details of the older one because of different birthing times) but they interact like two people who wandered into a improv class thinking they were in the yoga studio nearby and were asked to partake in an exercise where they are to act like sisters and, rather than just politely decline and try to locate their yoga studio, agree but come to realize that they hate each other and are failing at pretending to even be polite in their exchange and are just going through the motions so they can get the exercise over with and then can go about their lives. If that was too convoluted for you, I’m trying to say their acting was shit and they looked more like amateurs who just wanted to get the scene over with than try to look like actual siblings. If the story wasn’t actively trying to catapult you out of the film, their acting sure as hell wasn’t helping.

This is the only time she was mildly convincing as an actress throughout
the entire film.

In fact, there isn’t a single member of the family in this film that interacts with each in a convincing manner. Whether it be the preacher father or Anne Heche as the mother, there isn’t a single second where any of these actors are convincing in their portrayal as a family. They all look like robots and, add in the fact that none of the characters are developed in any significant way; it was hard to feel any compassion towards them or fear for their lives when threatened by a wayward monster.

Remember when she went crazy and was found in someone's house almost nude
and said she was God or an alien or some shit...those were good times.

Honestly, there are horror movies filmed on iPhones on YouTube that are constructed with more respect towards the genre. There’s no real scares to speak of in this film and the half-assed ones that do exist are farted onto the screen with no fanfare. Usually in horror movies, crescendo-infused music is there to alert us to and enhance the scares unfolding before us. Yes, it’s an awful cliché in the genre but it works so well for audiences. There are times where drastic changes in music or the very absence of it can help the scare but this movie fails in both those aspects.

"I like the movie The Ring.  Can we have the monster in our movie look like
the monster in that one?" - Slash

Throughout the movie, music that sounds like it belongs more in a heavy drama or even a dramedy is heard playing in the background. This mysterious music over everything further tossed me out of the film because I suddenly thought I was watching a movie that had confused its soundtrack with one about a guy who was trying to run away from his problems and that somewhere there was a movie that, for some unseen reason, had terror-striking music playing behind the scene of the guy confession his love to the quirky girl that was there for him all along.

Then you have the absolute absence of the terror chord that is so familiar to the world of horror movies. We all know when the scary shit happens on the screen, it is accentuated with a loud, shrieking crescendo that only helps the cheap jump scare work. I recall only one time in this one where this time-tested feature was used and at least a dozen times it wasn’t…and when it wasn’t used, the already flat and lifeless scares are only highlighted that much more of being flat and lifeless.

The only saving grace this film had, and the only thing that allowed me to give this a score of 1 rather than a score of zero, is the fact that Clancy Brown is great in his very limited role. It’s not surprising that he’s awesome because the man is talented but it’s just disappointing that a man who was in Highlander and is the voice of Mr. Krabs can’t land a script worthy of his talents. 

You're better than this, Clancy.

Another shiny speck of light in the film was Carter Cabassa as the family’s young son Christopher. Like the entire family, Christopher is viciously underdeveloped and, unlike the other family members, is pretty much pushed into the background for a majority of the movie until it was time for the family to die, but when the monster that is now his sister comes to claim his mortal soul, we get to see this kid rock his role and he did a tremendous job. 

Also doing a tremendous job, that old man extra rocking it on the dance floor!

Nothing Left to Fear is a movie that was clearly made without any real consideration for entertaining its audience. The talents of Brown and Cabassa are not utilized the way they should be and, instead, the film focuses on sloppy storytelling, music that was clearly downloaded from a free-use website and a director who doesn’t give a single solitary fuck about scaring his audience.

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