thu 30/05/2024

All You Need Is Death review - a future folk horror classic | reviews, news & interviews

All You Need Is Death review - a future folk horror classic

All You Need Is Death review - a future folk horror classic

Irish folkies seek a cursed ancient song in Paul Duane's impressive fiction debut

Lean and hungry: an ancient spirit (Benedict Stewardson) steps out of the shadows in 'All You Need is Death'

Music, when the singer’s voice dies away, vibrates in the memory. In the hypnotic new Irish horror film All You Need Is Death, those who search for long-unheard songs crave a certain melody that works a terrible magic on the living. In this pleasingly eldritch narrative debut by documentary-maker Paul Duane, it’s unclear whether the forbidden tune will turn out to be a love ballad, a curse, or both.

Either way, the movie’s heroine, Anna (Simone Collins, pictured below), thrills at the thought of discovering for herself. Though she’s the talented frontwoman of a contemporary Irish folk group, she sneakily records – with the help of her boyfriend Aleks (Charlie Maher) – another musician’s gig, maybe to bootleg his act, maybe to revel in the lilting strangeness of his repertoire.Anna and Aleks are not alone in their obsession. In All You Need Is Death, nighttime Dublin seems to be crawling with killingly ambitious folklore investigators, out to publish or perish.

Anna’s mentor is even more obsessed. “The future is picked clean,” says the enigmatic Agnes (Catherine Siggins). “Treasure lies in the past. We find beauty where others have overlooked it.”

Early on, Anna tracks down a legendary singer named Rita (Olwen Fouéré), who’s been guarding the prize she seeks: A song so old that it’s not in Gaelic, but “in whatever language came before", and so dangerous that it must never be recorded, written down, or heard by male ears.

Rita’s grown son (Nigel O’Neill), who’s taken desperate measures to join his mother’s matrilineal songcatcher cult, becomes Anna’s unlikely ally when Aleks disappears along with evidence of the song. For a while, All You Need Is Death unfolds with the terrible power of a recursive waking nightmare. Short on details and long on hallucinatory visuals and soundscaping, this movie about unheard terrors will entrance fans of trippy horror. Viewers tone-deaf to the allure of weird fictions may simply wonder what the hell’s going on.

It unfolds with the terrible power of a recursive waking nightmare


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters