That strange black mold creeping across the walls of your home — and the face of your teenage daughter — may be a sign that a demon is afoot, or simply that this particular slice of religious horror is well past its sell-by date. Notable mainly as the film producing debut of erstwhile Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, the fittingly titled “Nothing Left to Fear” (which Anchor Bay opens Friday for a token theatrical run) features fewer small-town scares than a rerun of “Dawson’s Creek” and more wooden acting than a marionette theater. Memo to Rob Zombie: Don’t fear the competition.
We’re not 10 minutes into this reverse-engineered “Children of the Corn” (which also marks the inauspicious directing debut of creature designer and storyboard artist Anthony Leonardi III) when the slit throat and lifeless dilated pupil of a literal sacrificial lamb fill the screen, portending much hellfire-and-brimstone hoodoo to come. If only fresh-faced family man Dan Bramford (James Tupper) had thought to do a Google search on Stull, Kans., he’d have learned that the seemingly bucolic farm town has long figured in tales of the occult and supernatural, like a Great Plains Salem. But instead the God-fearing pastor arrives with his brood — wife Wendy (Anne Heche, wasted), teenage daughters Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone) and son Christopher (Carter Cabassa) — to take over the local church from the retiring Pastor Kingsman (Clancy Brown, who looks suspiciously far from retirement age).
At first, the locals seem ever so daggum friendly, even sending away the professional movers so they can lend the Bramfords a hand themselves. It doesn’t take long, though, for cracks to form in this Norman Rockwell facade, starting around the time Mary bites into a slice of a housewarming cake and nearly chokes on a large, snaggly tooth concealed inside. But it takes a very long time before anything wiggles the needle on the fright meter, unless one counts the courtship scenes between Rebecca and the strapping, mysterious lamb-slayer Noah (Ethan Peck, grandson of Gregory), which play like outtakes from a 1980s Juicy Fruit commercial.
Yes, the town has a secret to keep — one that comes as much more of a shock to the Bramfords than it will to anyone in the audience. But those who stick with the pic to the end will get to hear Slash strum his axe and collaborator Myles Kennedy wail on an original title song, one lyric of which is also an apt advisory to potential ticket buyers: “Scream out my love/But your god won’t come.”