HORROR MOVIES MADE BY ROCK STARS ARE REALLY REALLY... UNPREDICTABLE
Nothing Left To Fear (2013)
I think I've watched every movie Rob Zombie's ever made (even his mammary-heavy cartoon). Now did I think they were good? Yes and no. Yes that Rob had some really unique ideas for a horror movie, no because he sometimes has the ideas but doesn't seem to follow through. I'm sticking my neck out by saying this was apparent in Lords Of Salem. I really REALLY wanted to see that movie, and when I did... I scratched my head, thought 'I need to really pay more attention' and watched it again. I came to the same conclusion. He had a great idea, he had lush sets and music aaaaaand not much of a story. Or at least a story that seemed like he started strong and rushed to finish.
But in a world where the WWE is now producing its OWN horror flicks and doing a halfway decent job, as well as a young set of twins named Soska in Canada who are well on their way to becoming a very daunting force in future horror, when I heard that Guns 'N Roses former guitarist Slash was going to form his own horror production company I just shrugged and said, 'Why not?' - how bad could he be?
Truth? At least my truth? The only really disappointing thing about this project was the name he chose for his company - Slasher Productions. Uh huh. HOWEVER the movie itself turned out to be.... meh, pretty much what I expected but then they usually are. So what went wrong with this one (which had some peculiar if not outright baffling casting)?
This movie picks on the (very) small town of Stull, Kansas. Never heard of it? Yeah, the citizens there wish you never had either. An unincorporated town, it has a very plain and normal history. Yet somehow along the way it picked up an absolutely ridiculous rumor. The kind you can't even make any money from. I mean, do you think they got any money from this movie (which was NOT filmed there)? Nope. As briefly as I can (you know me) - this small community started in the 19th century and was originally called Deer Creek Community. In the middle of the 1800's there were six families. Woo hoo.
While over the years the population hasn't exactly exploded, there were enough to have a church, a cemetery, and a post office. They were going to put in a bank and an electric railway but those never came to fruition. And then the rumors started. Soon EVERYBODY knew that Stull, Kansas sat directly on a gateway to hell. This isn't the first place that has gotten that reputation but for poor little Stull this was not an opportunity for growth or fame.
They, in a word, despaired. Stull is just a tiny town outside of Lawrence and really didn't want a reputation. I sometimes complain I live in a really dull area (no abandoned sanitariums, huge houses people are scared to death of, no cursed areas) but this kind of reputation I would not wish on anybody, even my little town. How did the rumors start? That's hard to pin down, whether you check sites that swear to its authenticity or sites that tell you it's total bullcrap (which I'm more inclined to believe). 'Mysterious' deaths have happened there.
Umm, what? Death within families and hangings are hardly the fodder of demon hellmouth material. The way some of it reads, it sounds like a script to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Stull has tried to squash all the rumors about possible demonic or cult activity within the tiny space their town occupies with limited and sporadic success.
This movie is NOT going to help them any. In fact, reading of some of the supposed 'haunted' things that have happened there makes me feel bad for them. Some even encourage ghost seekers to 'camp out', especially on the grounds of the former church (which was torn down due to becoming dangerously dilapidated) which was supposed to have been built over the hellmouth itself. Now THAT idea is ancient and not solely American.
From the rise of the so-called Christian faiths, it has often been believed that many of the first churches were built over 'cursed' sites (read hellmouth here although that word isn't specifically used) in order to seal off and keep the evil down below where it belonged. For those that believe in hell that is, and that it is under our feet. It reminded me of a show I used to watch on the BBC called, appropriately, Strange. It was about John Strange, an ex-priest who had dedicated his life to hunting down demons and the darker side of the church, a task which some of his former bosses stand in the way of. It lasted a whole six episodes but those six were pretty darn good.
Whoops, off topic, sorry. Bottom line with Stull is that stories can start and explode even in the tiniest spaces and this kind of publicity Stull does NOT need. What the people of Stull need most is to be left alone. I'm afraid this movie is not going to help them do that. Too bad - a story about a supposed hellmouth could have been made up anywhere and not pointed fingers at any particular place, but somehow being able to use those cursed words 'based on real events' is just too tempting for filmmakers who are interested in dollars, not common sense (Like that little pun?).
But I guess it saved time when coming up with a story. It's kind of lazy to take an urban legend and form your movie around it. Sorry Slash, 'cause the direction, acting and musical score were very good. But the story - ugh. We start in the poor, raped town of Stull - its lone Pastor (played by Clancy Brown, always a welcome site even in a WTH role) is retiring so a new family is moving in, the father a new Pastor to replace him. So we have dad (James Tupper), mom (Anne Heche) who in real life are actually a couple with a child, older sister (played pretty well by Midnight Movie's Rebekah Brandes), younger sister (Jennifer Stone, Wizards of Waverly Place) and a little brother.
They arrive and we get the typical stares from the 'natives' as they meet with the retiring pastor and find out a little something about the town they've moved to. Why the suspicious stares and making them feel weird? They DID ask them to come there for crying out loud. So even though the score makes you feel uneasy and builds tension (which is what it's supposed to do, great stuff Slash) the situation is pedestrian. You've got the seemingly only teenage boy in town attracted to the older girl, the old people giving them what we like to call 'the stink eye' for no reason and... we get the usual type of 'appease the demons' type of movie.
The family get a blue cake (Blue? Ick, that would go directly into the trash.) from one of the friendlier people but they're too occupied to eat it. And we've got strange conversations between the Pastor and the teenage boy. So something's up, duh. Oh, and if you're wondering how could such a small town look so incredibly modern and.... LARGE it's 'cause this movie was filmed in Louisiana - three different places in Louisiana. So it appears that Stull doesn't even want to be in a movie for real - they want to be left alone. Can't blame them.
Anyway, the middle girl is the first to take a slice of cake and promptly cuts the roof of her mouth on a huge tooth in the cake. GAG. That. Was. Gross. The older sister and teenage boy, Noah (Ethan Peck, The Sorcerer's Apprentice) take care of her - the sis getting her a cloth, the boy sneaking the tooth into his pocket and throwing out the cake. So this apparently means that the middle child has been 'chosen'. For what?
This is what gets me about these kinds of movies. Demons are simply Angels that refuse to serve God. They are extremely powerful. Why do these writers think they have to follow all these stupid rules? There were rules for them and they broke them. That didn't turn them into incomprehensible creatures that mere humans have powers over... just because. And all these stupid rules and rites... you know the Demons are laughing at you, right?
In this case, only every so many years, this rumored hellmouth under Stull opens up, one demon comes up but not in its own body, oh no, can't have that - it 'possesses' a chosen young one to wreak havoc for a bit and then be sent back, and the hellmouth will be closed for another period of time. Ick. What a waste of a movie.
So the chosen girl, Mary, gets sicker and sicker and finally it takes over and she turns into - nothing like what's on the movie poster. Why do they do that? Sheesh. But she looks pretty ridiculous (and heavily CGI'd) and sure enough, she kills off her family one by one (except for the oldest girl) and is sent back where she - excuse me I mean it - came from. No matter what the older sister Rebecca (well that name was convenient) and her new beau Noah tries, it happens. Like it's happened over and over since ???
Noah pretty much knew this anyway - after all, he's the sole survivor of another family tricked into moving into their town. Why Rebecca still likes him after knowing that... never mind. In the end, the family dies, the 'Demon' is sent back and the town starts fresh. In the end, a new family is brought to town, with Rebecca looking grimly at them but not warning them or anything, as she is now absorbed by the town's populace I guess. Duh.
Despite the duh story I look forward to future projects from Slash - like I said the score was wonderful and I loved the song he played at the end 'Nothing Left To Fear' (I know, I know) although the song was horribly ripped apart by, I guess, Axl Rose fans.
Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.