[REVIEW] Old Habits Die Hard in Owen Dara’s “THE HOLY FAIL”


There’s something about the deadpan humor of the Irish that always seems to work—and Owen Dara’s THE HOLY FAIL is no exception. Set in Dara’s hometown of Cork, Ireland, the story centers around a newlywed couple already headed for divorce. Dara, the multi-hat-wearing writer, director, producer, and songwriter of the film, also stars in the lead role as the obsessively clean and boringly predictable, Brendan.



As a last ditch attempt at saving his marriage, Brendan adds a little salt to his bland personality by telling his adventurous American wife, Nicole (Jessica Lancaster), that he’s planning to rob a safe— a hackneyed plan dreamt up by Brendan’s best friend, the determined and daft, Colm (Stiofán Wyley). This being a comedy, of course nothing could be further from the truth. Soon Brendan’s little green lie entangles him in a web of untruths (and his re-aroused new bride’s legs). As Brendan struggles with either sticking to his morals or standing by his heart, the dominos begin to fall every which way, leading Brendan and his troupe of robbers-to-be toward apocalyptically epic failure.


Dara’s prowess as a longtime standup comic expertly manifests as he, quite impressively, sets up and pays off every nook and cranny of the story. And nowhere is this more evident than in the storyline of the two bumbling, prankster police guards, Garda Jim and Garda Kieran (Kevin McCormack and Frank Prendergast). Just when you think the twists and turns can’t get any more ridiculous, they do. Thanks to Dara’s meticulous writing skills, running gags land precisely and perfectly — and are face-palmingly funny to boot.




The biggest punny of all is where THE HOLY FAIL gets its moniker. Dara’s most daring of robbery complications takes place within the sanctity of a Catholic nunnery, led by the no-nonsense head nun, Sister Assumpta, played by Mairin Prendergast— an actress not only a pleasure to watch in a role as a Mother Superior, but also as an actual mother to Garda Kieran’s Frank Prendergast.


Utilizing Cork’s finest scenery, some of its best actors, and one local Corker cast straight from his barstool, THE HOLY FAIL is an accomplishment that should make Dara and his team quite proud. There are moments that leave the audience laughing well after a punchline lands (a difficult feat even many above-the-line comics struggle with), and the well-crafted scuffle of oh-Brendan-boy’s ethics versus his vows is truly a delight to watch.




Perhaps the most appetizing aspect of THE HOLY FAIL lies in its ability to never feel like a joke (or the film) runs too long. Running at a comedy clip of 85 minutes, THE HOLY FAIL has the luck of the Irish behind it—and hopefully pots of distribution gold lie in its future ahead

“The Holy Fail” premiered at The Pasadena International Film Festival on March 11th 2018. For more information on PIFF, please visit: https://www.pasadenafilmfestival.org/

Reviewed by Natasha Lewin–March 16th, 2018











Photographed: Owen Dara (producer/writer/director/composer), Virginia Williams (soundtrack vocalist), Jessica Lancaster (producer/actress) Photo Credit: Jenny Rolapp

Photographed: Owen Dara (producer/writer/director/composer), Virginia Williams (soundtrack vocalist), Jessica Lancaster (producer/actress)
Photo Credit: Jenny Rolapp


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