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All You Need Is Death Review: Cryptic Irish Horror

The face of a woman is overlayed on a shot of some trees in the horror film All You Need is Death

All You Need Is Death is a good horror film about more than just gore and scares. It is a tale about the consequences of stealing music and betraying heritage.

Director: Paul Duane
Genre: Thriller / Horror
Run Time: 90′
US Release: April 11, 2024 (limited)
UK Release: April 19, 2024
Where to watch: in select US theaters and in UK & Irish cinemas

Music is more than simple melodies and words. It can be personal and moving as it passes down history through generations. That is the powerful but haunting message behind All You Need Is Death, the harrowing horror film about a couple in search of long-lost Irish folk songs. As they uncover and translate an age-old song, they unlock its powers once again and must try to escape its consequences. All You Need Is Death is a unique horror film with themes of espionage, revenge, and folklore.

Simone Collins (The Last Duel) plays Anna, an Irish collector of lost songs. Alongside her romantically involved partner in crime, Aleks (Charlie Maher), the two make their way from pub to pub to secretly record—and eventually sell—the songs no one knows of. This premise lends the opportunity for writer-director Paul Duane to make the story not simply a haunting tale, but one of strategy and criminal activity. Anna and Aleks navigate their way through new challenges, conning their counterparts like Irish Tom Ripleys.

All You Need Is Death is unashamedly Irish, bringing a fresh perspective on heritage and culture to the horror genre. Its deeper message is about the consequences of stealing music and betraying one’s heritage. Greed gets in the way of honoring family history, which eventually leads to some gruesome developments near the end of the film.

While it eventually packs a strong punch, much of All You Need Is Death simmers slowly to reach its climax. Some scenes include heavy dialogue, resulting in a sense that the film is drawn out. Nevertheless, the screenplay weaves together its several main characters’ stories very well. Breezeblock Concannon’s (Nigel O’Neill, of The Bookshop) story is eerily reminiscent of Hereditary, replete with strange and dark family developments. Anna and Aleks’ development is surprising and tragic.

The film’s makeup department (Tom McInerney, Ruth Parry, and Sarah Ryan) was stellar. From gruesome images to cult-like fashion, everything was working to truly immerse viewers in the weird and haunting atmosphere of the film. They perfectly placed a nod to Pan’s Labyrinth in the film; that, among others, makes All You Need Is Death an engaging new film that pays homage to great fright flicks in the past.

A face of a person with long white hair hit by streaks of light on their face in the horror film All You Need is Death, clearly a reference to Pan's Labyrinth
All You Need Is Death (Blue Finch Film Releasing)

While there are supernatural elements that drive All You Need Is Death, it primarily hinges on love, betrayal and revenge. Each of the main characters have loved and lost in distinct ways, and their deep histories add a personal layer to the otherwise intense and disturbing story. The film relies on cryptic imagery around the folk song’s true powers, almost to its disadvantage. There are scenes that seem ancestral and cultish, and a clearer reveal would have helped solidify the film’s fear factor. However, it still has some great scary moments, and the last act of the film is sure to get your heart racing.

All You Need Is Death gives attention to stylistic details that make the film original: the title card and end credits scroll up the screen instead of down, and there are small bits of dialogue throughout the film that allude to a much more intricate story than would seem at first. These elements, with Simone Collins’ superb acting and an intense final sequence, make All You Need Is Death a good horror film that highlights more than just gore and scares. Overall, the film is a versatile and satisfactory experience.

All You Need Is Death will be released in UK & Irish cinemas on 19 April, 2024.

All You Need Is Death: Trailer (Blue Finch Film Releasing)
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