NYC Horror Film Fest Review: “ALL I NEED”Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
When a film decides to employ a big twist in its third-act, the film by proxy makes it more difficult for the content of the first two acts to stand on their own merit. Like it or not, that twist will polarize most viewers depending on how receptive to the twist they are, if they understand the twist, or if they saw the twist coming at all. And while the bold twist that ALL I NEED takes in its third act with the subtle drop of a name and philosophy is certainly unpredictable, it’s recontextualizing of the action that came before it makes it perhaps more problematic than one might like.
For those unfamiliar, ALL I NEED follows a pair of dueling narratives that are revealed to the audience in tandem to one another. On one hand, we have the story of a young woman, who wakes up in a room bound and gagged in her underwear, surrounded by other women in the same state who appear for the worse. On the other hand, we have the story of a desperate father, whose recent divorce and financial instability puts him in an escalating series of morally compromising jobs from an enigmatic employer. Of course, these stories are revealed to be connected but how, and more importantly why, is a whole different story altogether.
Now, don’t get this writer wrong: ALL I NEED is actually a quite well made movie and is certainly entertaining in most aspects. Taking its time to establish its tone, ALL I NEED is largely atmospheric in its building of dread, allowing various situations of ranging viscera play out in a naturalistic and minimalist fashion. Written and directed by Dylan Narang, ALL I NEED does sport a strong central mystery and at least one fantastic set-piece, and his script provides a rather great bait-and-switch shortly after the aforementioned twist.
However, ALL I NEED also has a fair amount of issues, the first and foremost being the pacing of the film. The film devotes far more time to the former subplot than the latter, which sometimes makes the intrusion of the second subplot more jarring at times, especially following an extended sequence made up of long-takes near the middle of the film. Furthermore, the cinematography by Collin Brazie, while clear and colorful, is unfortunately flat, which robs the film of tonal personality while often showing the limited budget of the film. And then there’s the twist which, while definitely appreciated by the lover of classic horror and mythology in this writer, does pose some logical fallacies in the action before, especially when it comes to the main set piece in which our main antagonist brandishes a weapon that would seem counterintuitive to his cause.
Luckily, ALL I NEED does offer strong performances throughout the film, as Narang does show his strong suit as an actor’s director. Caitlin Stasey is effective in her role as the unwitting protagonist in the first subplot, giving a physical and emotional performance that poses both heroism and faltering humanity. Meanwhile, Markus Taylor is strong in the role that drives the second subplot, and sells his descent into loyal, unquestioning inhumanity with gusto. Meanwhile, ALL I NEED also sports brief but solid turns from Rachel Melvin and Holly Twyford, the former as an important role in the first storyline while the latter serving as the narrative bridge between the stories.
Overall, ALL I NEED is a fairly good film by any measure, but there’s a bit too much off-the-mark to keep it from becoming anything more. While the third act twist is likely to make ALL I NEED a more divisive title, ALL I NEED offers an otherwise strong story and performances that are hampered by an unfortunate lack of style and cinematic voice. And while Narang proves himself to be adept as a horror director with an admittedly entertaining film under his belt, ALL I NEED definitely could have used some retooling and a dash of passion if it wanted to be a genuinely memorable entry in the genre, or, at the very least, a bold flick worthy of its rather high concept twist.