For cheap thrills, "Nothing Left to Fear" is true to its title. Director Anthony Leonardi III and writer Jonathan Mills have let not one scary moment on screen.
And that's frightening.
Not so much for the film's teen stars Ethan Peck (the great Gregory's grandson), Jennifer Stone of "Wizards of Waverly Place" and Rebekah Brandes. They're young.
But for Anne Heche and James Tupper, there is nothing in "Nothing" for either of the actors except to figure out which one will write the apology notes to fans.
FOR THE RECORD:
"Nothing Left to Fear" review: A review of the film "Nothing Left to Fear" in the Oct. 4 Calendar section said the film is set in Skull, Kan. It is set in Stull.
Like the black smoky thing that comes out of a murky pool and stains the bodies of the victims in Skull, Kan., where this tortured tale unfolds, "Nothing Left to Fear" leaves you wondering whether this is just a bump in their night or a sign of career distress.
Tupper seems to have found his footing in TV, most recently as David Clarke, the father whose betrayal drives the machinations of ABC's "Revenge." Heche is the one who seems largely lost to us.
To see what we're missing, go back to 1997 and her turn in the black comedy "Wag the Dog" with Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, or opposite Harrison Ford in 1998 "Six Days Seven Nights." The actress has a distinctive blend of beauty, intelligence and vulnerability. And, when it's called for, great comic timing, found in the easy humor that she and Tupper brought to "Men in Trees," a quirky romantic comedy series on ABC a few years ago.
In "Nothing Left to Fear," Tupper and Heche play Pastor Dan and his loving wife, Wendy. They've packed up the kids, 17-year-old Rebecca (Brandes), Mary (Stone), 15, and 10-year-old Christopher (Carter Cabassa) for Skull, where there's a flock that needs Pastor Dan's tending.
I'm not sure which is more of a tip-off that something's amiss — that a family of five, including two teenagers, could drive across country with nary a squabble or that Skull's local hunk Noah (Peck) is killing a sheep when they pull up.
Where evil lurks, you can count on two things — people will die and teenagers will fall in love anyway. Noah and Rebecca take care of the stolen kisses. Slash, best known for his Guns N' Roses guitar greatness, produced the film and wrote the score. Music is clearly his metier.
A lot of the movie's specific plot points are very murky, although why anyone stays in Skull is the bigger mystery.
Lack of logic is not necessarily a killer when it comes to horror. Take Freddy Krueger. I never believed he was real, but that didn't stop me, and a million others, from staying awake for days after seeing "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
But "Nothing Left to Fear" is no "Nightmare." And that, my friends, is the problem.
'Nothing Left to Fear'
MPAA rating: R for disturbing violent content and some language
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: In select theaters