Nothing Left to FearFollowing up our interview with Slash for his first foray into the horror genre, HeyUGuys had the opportunity to get further under the skin of Nothing Left to Fear when we spoke with its director Anthony Leonardi III…

Why a career in filmmaking? Was there that one inspirational moment?

Oh man I have a couple of them. My background is a bit different because I grew up in the film industry. My grandparents worked at MGM together and they met when they were kids, and I grew up going to Spielberg’s movie sets whilst he was shooting the likes of Jurassic Park. So from an early age it was in the blood and I just knew what it was I wanted to do. Also I grew up in a small town just north of Los Angeles. I remember how we had one theatre and several features and I saw Baron Munchausen and Beetlejuice there, and those movies completely changed my whole outlook on everything. It was then that I knew I had to make movies.

What are your first memories of discovering the horror genre?

Fun House! My mom showed it to me back in the eighties, and I just remember being terrified by it. I also remember her showing me The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre – I was very young when they came out, but both of those movies traumatised me. I remember seeing Alien which is probably my favourite horror – Alien and The Thing. Those just changed everything for me, though I do believe watching horror at a young age is different to watching it as an adult because there is something that is engrained into you early on.

In a genre that exploits and preys up on fear, the chosen title Nothing Left to Fear is one that represents the horror fan’s version of the apocalypse.

The title is something I didn’t have much to do with, but what we did embrace, and what you do expect when you see a title like that are certain things. What we tried to do was to go off the beaten path as often as we could when you see things coming. The aim was to keep you guessing as to what was going to happen. But fear is one of those weird things, and for me and Slash what scared us more was in knowing that things were happening behind your back as opposed to people being chopped up in front of you. It was that presence that we were trying to build, which we thought would be more terrifying. That not knowing was something that we really feared.

The film is anchored in mythology as the town rumoured to be one of the seven gateways to hell. Are you religious and what role does religion play in the film?

It’s funny because I was brought up to be very religious. When you read scripts like this, the one thing that becomes a cliché is how the religious people become the villains. What I thought was interesting in the beginning was instead of making the religious town the bad guys; to place into more of a grey area. They had to do a terrible thing in order to do something good, and for me that was the paradox that became much more interesting than simply depicting them as the bad guys who want to serve people to the devil. The fact they didn’t want to do this thing that they they had to do, and the fact that they were doing something they knew was real became much more terrifying than it just being a crazy cult out in the Kansas hills.

The film questions whether religion is a proactive and protective force or it is a passive force that we worship. It offers an interesting discussion, and whilst it doesn’t quite fully commit to the Nietzsche line that God is dead, the characters are on a journey to discover how close God is to their world.

That becomes interesting because there are all these movies about monsters and devils, but everybody says God’s not around. So if they are saying there are devils in all these movies then God should be a force in them as well. It becomes that issue of something people stop believing in, but then this real thing is happening in the world (in our movie universe). It’s like people who oppose a belief in aliens. You just dismiss them but then what if you find out there really is something to it. I think people forget that with religion there are people who truly believe in something, and everyone dismisses it all of the way. So I guess this film is pushing towards that forefront a little bit in that it became one of the main themes of the movie.

Nothing Left to Fear UK PosterSpeaking with Clancy Brown, he was talking of the film as being a first chapter in a trilogy. It’s an interesting point if only for the fact that this first chapter doesn’t see the rise of the heroine. She just survives, whilst the next stage of her journey is one in which she becomes the heroine who will banish the evil and liberate the town. It doesn’t feel as though this story is over as of yet.

That was the tough thing about doing this because there are so many elements. In the original script there was so much going on, and for a small horror movie it can get confused and muddled. One of the approaches I wanted to try was to keep it clean, and to build a family that’s believable who we then throw into this thing that it just so happens they were picked for. By the end when you figure out what they were picked for there’s not the time for our lead character to understand what’s going on until it happens to her. So it would make sense to have a second chapter of what would she do if she went up against that evil. What would she do with her own belief? Is she going to be part of it or is she going to try and change things? So that definitely makes sense.

How difficult is it to launch a film series in the current climate where it is so difficult to get just the one film made?

You said it right there, but I know that question came up when we were in pre-production and production and even afterwards when the movie was coming out. But it is so hard to get that one movie made. We’d have people saying “What if we put this in the movie and that’ll come up later in a sequel?” It’s just too much to add stuff like that, and as a director the thing you have to focus on is making sure you get a story made because budgets keep changing even in the days before shooting when the days get shorter. We shot it fast and furious, but it was pretty difficult to think you were going to have two or three and to have these things that would be in there and then payoff later. By simplifying the story and making it about a character who arrives in this town and who then makes this discovery allows it to end in such a way that you can go in a bunch of directions. You are not putting yourself in the position where you have to go this way or that way based on things you have already done because it is just about a character discovering a secret.

How would the absence of religion in our civilisation change the landscape of the genre?

It would be tough without those moral fibres that have been sown through it because religion plays a big part into it. It’s always white versus black, the devil versus God and good versus evil. Of course there are always good and bad, but religion gives us taboos and such that are perceived as bad. That’s what horror plays on. It plays on the things you are not supposed to see and then we show it to you. Without that kind of stuff it would just become people being chased by wolves and tigers and the monsters would not have the impact of being some demonic entity.

What do you hope Nothing Left to Fear brings to the horror genre?

I hope people have a little unexpected fun journey with it. I hope we took what people expected and put it on the tilt a little bit. The whole purpose of it was making something we wanted to see and that we weren’t getting enough of it. The problem with these kinds of movies is that the horror genre is a slasher porn kind of industry now, and this is more a slow burn horror. Hopefully people who have liked it have really liked it, and I just hope we keep finding those people.

Nothing Left to Fear is out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD, click here to purchase your copy.