“All I Need” is a frustrating film to watch, mainly because the intriguing premise is not fully developed. It could be so much better. When Chloe (Caitlin Stasey – “Neighbours”) wakes up in hotel room bound and gagged, she wonders how she got into this predicament. Then she sees there are other young girls likewise bound and gagged clad in only their underwear. This has our attention, as these girls appear to be either unconscious or dead. What’s going on here?
The story shifts to Andrew (Markus Taylor – “Deadheads”) an out of work dad trying to visit his daughter. Behind on his child support he’s looking for quick money. When he receives a phone call to deliver packages to random addresses, he takes the job.
These two story lines take forever to connect and the resolution is a disappointment. While I was intrigue by the initial setup my interest wane after a series of drawn out escape attempts, all very similar. When Chloe becomes innovative, the story takes off. Now there is hope. Likewise, the question of why these young women were held captive became less pressing as there were no clues showing possible reasons. For instance, if a body had been returned to the room drained of color, one might surmise an explanation.
The lack of dialogue presents a problem as so many questions are left unanswered. Why are these women being held captive, why are some gagged and bound, why are others unconscience or dead? What happens to those taken from the room? What happened to those whose bodies are returned? Too many questions dilute the menace. Therefore, some dialogue in this area between two girls might have helped, especially if their misconceptions up the terror level. Fear is the expectation of pain and terror causes extreme exhaustion and confusion of one’s faculties.
The fact that the girls Chloe attempts to help end up worst off is a nice touch. You would think she would learn to leave well enough alone, yet she’s a responsible person with genuine caring qualities and that makes her more likeable. She becomes more admirable toward the end when she becomes more innovative. Using torn bed sheets is an ingenious device utilized in the reversal scene that resolves this excruciating dilemma. When she extracts her revenge, she savours the moment with the perfect expression, one fully appreciated by the audience.
Elizabeth, (Holly Twyford -“Pecker”) the ultra-rich benefactor behind this mayhem reveals to Andrew her “need” plus how he will be richly rewarded if he works for her This sinister scene, near the end of the movie, explains all. Moreover, the connection between Chloe and Andrew’s stories become known. I expected more.
The desired response in terror is to scare the audience though exploitation of basic fears resulting from alignment with sympathetic character(s) in terrifying struggles, to manipulate a vicarious expectation of tension and pain. There are moments in “All I Need” that fulfill this response; however, they are not compelling enough and too redundant to make this a viable fright movie. The acting by Caitlin Stasey is commendable as she plays all the right notes for this genre. Her pacing is deliberate and stretched to promote the anticipation of fright and pain. She also has a very expressive face that clearly articulates her thoughts and feelings and she uses the full palette of fearful expressions. With limited dialogue, she carries this film with her behavior alone. Having better material, she will go farther…
CREDITS: “All I Need” stars Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Melven, Jonathan Erickson Eisley, Melanie Avalon, Holly Twyford and Markus Taylor. Costume Designer – Jessica Lee; Art Director – Aidan FioRito; Production Designer – Michael Fitzgerald; Cinematographer – Collin Brazie; Editor – Phil Bucci; Composer – Jacob Yoffee; Co-Producers – Matthew Perniciaro, Producers – Dylan K. Narang & Jeff Robinson; Writer/Director – Dylan K Narang; Produced by Foggy Bottom Pictures; Unrated, HD; 83 Minutes.