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[FrightFest Glasgow 2024] FILM REVIEW: All You Need is Death

Updated: Mar 19

All You Need is Death - FrightFest Glasgow 2024 UK Premiere


Director: Paul Duane

Starring: Simone Collins, Charlie Maher, Nigel O'Neill, Olwen Fouéré, Catherine Siggins


Written by: Paul Duane

Produced by: Paul Duane

Cinematography by: Conor Rotherham

Orignal Score by: Ian Lynch


Synopsis:

A young couple who collect rare folk ballads discover the dark side of love when they surreptitiously record and translate an ancient, taboo folk song from the deep, forgotten past.


All You Need Is Death Film Review

Thoughts:

It's safe to say that Ireland has really stepped up it's horror game in recent years with the likes of Lee Cronin's 'The Hole in the Ground', Kate Dolan's 'You Are Not My Mother' and Lynne Davison's 'Mandrake'. And particularly within the realms of folk horror do the Irish proudly and consistently deliver and Paul Duane's mysterious folk song quest manages to fuse both folk horror and a little bit of cosmic horror into one to create an admittedly sometimes frustrating but magical end product.



Young couple Anna (Simone Collins) and Aleks (Charlie Maher) are an important part of a small team whose lives are dedicated to discovering and collecting rare Irish folk songs on tape. The rarer the better. Part of what they do requires them to travel from small town to small town, and often in secrecy, to listen to local musical acts in order to identify and subsequently unearth previously undiscovered, obscure folk ballads that they can record and distribute to their eager clientele. The duo have become aware of a lead that might direct them to one of the rarest discoveries they have ever made. They travel to the home of Rita Concannon (Olwen Fouéré), an infamous old witch-like lady who at first comes across as a harbinger of doom type character but then reservedly agrees to sing them a profoundly meaningful folk song. It's an ancient song that has been handed down to the women in her family tree and is only meant for female ears so she requests that Aleks leave the room as she laments it to Anna and the leader of the collector group Agnes (Catherine Siggins).



Unbeknownst to both Anna and Rita, Agnes has secretly recorded the song against the wishes of Rita and the remainder of the film follows the consequences of her selfishly reckless actions in a shocking and horrifying manner.


Benedict Stewardson in All You Need is Death

The premise seems, at first, a bit silly and implausible. How can you "collect" songs and what's the reason behind this somewhat perverse hobby? 'All You Need is Death' brilliantly decides to just go with it and not give too many explanations into this strange obsessive career that Anna and Aleks have chosen. Collecting these rare songs make them a lot of money but it's the darker more sinister reason behind the recordings that creates the intrigue.



Duane takes the urban legend of a cursed song that, when translated, has an immense power to change people who hear it and he uses his experience in the documentary realm to bring a sense of realism. It's slow and tense and the horror builds gradually. As always Olwen Fouéré is fantastic, even if she doesn't get much screen time but the big stand out is Nigel O'Neill, who plays her son seeking revenge. I adored his hilarious performance as Francie Moffat in 'Boys From County Hell' but this is far from the funny one-liners and priceless colloquialisms. O'Neill is a force to be reckoned with here.


'All You Need is Death' is proof that you don't need much of a budget to be effective, all you really need is committed performances, creative writing and an uniquely, distressing finale. It's a film that will get under your skin and haunt you from the inside out.


Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½


-Gavin Logan


'All You Need is Death' received it's UK Premiere at FrightFest Glasgow 2024 on March 9th

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