Thursday , May 23 2024

Film Review: The Enigmatic ‘All You Need is Death’

Writer/director Paul Duane’s atmospheric film, All You Need is Death, explores the dangers of reviving the ancient languages and performing the old songs in tongues that must not ever be heard again.

Though it’s been billed as a horror film, All You Need is Death stubbornly refuses to fit into that category…or any other category, for that matter.

Anna (Simone Collins) and Aleks (Charlie Maher) are a pair of lovers and musicians who roam the Irish countryside like itinerants. They perform where and when they can, but their true intention is to hunt down and pilfer the local culture of ancient folk songs to sell to connoisseurs who will pay dearly for the forgotten verse.

An Evil Spirit?

They think they’ve hit the jackpot when their inquiries lead them to an eccentric, witchy woman named Rita Concannon (Olwen Fouéré), who used to be a famed performer but is now a dissolute drunk. She knows a song that’s particularly powerful, sung in an unknown language, but she warns them that it is “an evil spirit on the world.” It was passed down from woman to woman, and was especially never to be sung in the presence of men.

Even with Aleks present, Rita agrees to sing the ancient song, but she warns Anna not to record it. Anna acquiesces, but after the elderly woman’s plaintive howl of a performance, she and Alexs hurriedly collaborate to transcribe what they’ve heard to make the song ready for market.

Spirits Come A’Calling

Strange things are afoot, though. As Anna labors to finish the transcription, Aleks starts to drift away from her. He breaks off all communication and increasingly isolates himself. Rita’s warning has come true. It doesn’t take long before the spirits that have been unleashed by the song come a’calling. Let’s just say it’s creepy.

Delivers the Chills

All You Need is Death goes far beyond those “cursed VHS” Ringu tropes and travels back to the Emerald Isle, whose history is so long…and whose furious spirits can be awakened at any time. Here’s where Duane lets his film deliver the chills, as the weak human emotions come face-to-face with the angry ghosts of yore.

From a production standpoint, Duane’s efforts are well supported by Conor Rotherham’s handsome cinematography and Ian Lynch’s fine score. The FX by Donal Nolan and Suzi Battersby are also spot-on.

This puzzle-box of a film is a must-see for those who like their creepiness not so damn obvious. It is currently available on VOD.

Photos courtesy XYZ Films.

About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and inbound marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.

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