All You Need is Death

All You Need is Death poster

It’s an old tradition, paying for a song with a pint, but the experience only lasts as long as the drink does after which there are just memories, an unspoken rule broken by Anna and Aleks who make surreptitious recordings to pass forward to the collectors of folk songs, reporting to the validator Agnes, a difficult woman to please whose ear divines the difference between a unusual variation and that rarest of gems, a primary source.

Carefully following leads to a remote village, the pair attempt inveigle an audience with the reclusive Rita Concannon only to find Agnes has beaten them there, tipped off by their earlier conversation; Anna makes a solemn promise not to record the song, a legacy passed down by word of mouth from the old times through the women of Rita’s family and never to be written down, foolishly not realising that Agnes does not feel bound to honour a vow she herself did not make.

All You Need is Death; Aleks and Anna (Charlie Maher and Simone Collins) pay close attention to the song.

An independently produced horror film written and directed by Paul Duane shot in and around Dublin, the shadow of the deep and recent past hangs over All You Need is Death, a tale of ancient words and unheeded warnings, set in close-knit communities where everyone knows everyone and their business but knows better than to discuss it with outsiders, the Troubles having left scars down generations who will never trust a stranger.

Starring Simone Collins, Charlie Maher and Catherine Siggins as Anna, Aleks and the self-serving Agnes, The Northman’s Olwen Fouéré is the eccentric Rita, the drunken woman possessed of ancient knowledge and a voice to carry its power who prefers to conduct her rare interviews from within a wardrobe and Boys from County Hell’s Nigel O’Neill as the justifiably protective “Breezeblock,” the unwanted son she was given when tradition required she bear a daughter.

All You Need is Death; Breezeblock Concannon and Anna (Nigel O'Neill and Simone Collins) piece together what little they know.

Music having always played a vital role setting the mood of horror, from the orchestral scores of James Bernard for Hammer to the synthesisers of John Carpenter, nowhere is this so particular as in folk horror, the romanza of Witchfinder General, the twisted pastorale of The Blood on Satan’s Claw, the backroom singers of All You Need is Death most likely finding kinship with the players of the Green Man of Summerisle with their traditional songs of love, death and deceit which honour old gods whose names predate language.

Agnes driven by a consuming hunger to possess that which no one else has, becoming a character in her own cautionary folk song, there are aspects of the production which do not fit as they might, the visions of ancient rituals looking like they were shot at a modern Beltane festival, but for the most part All You Need is Death succeeds, an undeniably Irish thriller existing in the twilight where people can vanish and never be spoken aloud again, their names forever cursed when it comes time to pay the price for the song.

The Glasgow Film Festival concluded on Sunday 10th March

All You Need is Death; Ron Stowman (Barry McKiernan) has heard the song, now it's time to pay the price.



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