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[Glasgow FrightFest]: All You Need Is Death

Very much cemented in the folk culture of Ireland is director Paul Duane’s All You Need Is Death which follows a couple, Anna (Simone Collins) and Aleks (Charlie Maher), as they travel Ireland, collecting recordings of rare Irish folk songs in order to sell to questionable collectors. After presenting some of their findings to academic Agnes (Catherine Siggins), she directs them towards an old woman who is the only keeper of a largely unknown folk song, sung in a language that even predates Gaeilge (the Irish language). 

Rita Concannon, played by the legendary Olwen Foúeré, sings the song which has been handed down through the female lineage of her family, and must only be heard by women. Even though the song must never be written down or recorded in any way, Agnes ignores the warnings and collects a recording of the song, which results in disastrous consequences for all involved. 

With the recent influx of Irish folk horrors on the international cinematic stage, it was only a matter of time until a film explored the dark and endless depths of Irish folk history and culture that endures within Irish society in this modern era, and All You Need Is Death is that exact film to do so. Both a celebration of our musical and storytelling traditions, as well as a haunting exploration of the struggle it has been for the people of Ireland to keep those traditions alive, Duane’s debut horror movie is steeped in dreaded tension, helped along by the type of soundtrack (from Ian Lynch) that is so insidiously creepy and gloom laden, its felt in the pit of viewers’ stomachs. 

Despite the film not being plot heavy, much like the song and storytelling traditions of Ireland, it is about the atmospheric vibes created, the feelings being evoked and the lessons we must learn that are then to be passed down through generations. The character of Rita Concannon (Concannon being an anglicised version of the Irish Ó Con Cheannainn, which is a descendant of Cúcheannan, the fair/white headed hound) is a protector and our warning flag of what happens when we allow our culture to be exploited and profited from. Despite the consumption of music and traditional songs forever changing, All You Need Is Death is a cautionary tale of what happens when a society forgets its roots, over-sterilises traditions through the extensive application of academia on folk culture that is meant to be shared organically from generation to generation.  

All You Need Is Death does not rely too heavily on horror tropes like jump scares, but instead builds a universe stereotypical to folk horror, where audiences watch in horror its inevitable journey to a hellish end where the old ways and those who have previously ruled over the land, return to devour the modern world. 

4 out of 5


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