Film Review – Speak No Evil (2022)

Title – Speak No Evil (2022) 

Director – Christian Tafdrup (Parents) 

Cast – Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg

Plot – Mild mannered Danish couple Bjorn (Burian) and Louise (Koch) along with their young daughter Agnes (Forsberg) take up an offer from new friends in Holland to visit them for a seemingly peaceful holiday that turns into something far different when clashing opinions and ways of life become apparent. 

“Why are you doing this?”

Review by Eddie on 20/12/2022

Very much sitting in the same uncomfortable and unnerving movie going experience that would be familiar with anyone that has encountered Hereditary or Midsommar in recent times, Danish slow burn horror/thriller (potential black comedy) Speak No Evil is sure to find a life in the cult circuit thanks to its global release on horror streaming service Shudder, with Christian Tafdrup’s effort deserving of being noticed even if its highly controversial finale is sure to divide viewers into two very passionate for and against camps. 

Wasting little time in ensuring viewers are on edge from the moment his film begins, with Sune Kølster’s ominous music playing over seemingly pleasant countrysides and family holiday activities, Tafdrup introduces us to Morten Burian and Sidsel Siem Koch’s softly spoken Danish couple Bjorn and Louise and their young daughter Agnes who become friendly with Fedja van Huêt and Karina Smulders Dutch couple Patrick and Karin and their young almost mute boy Abel, with the families friendship leading to Bjorn and Louise venturing to Holland to spend a few days away with their new acquaintances. 

To say things get weird from this initial simple event would be a huge understatement but never does anything feel entirely normal or right in a mood or occurrence sense throughout Speak No Evil’s runtime, with a foreboding sense of unease and unpleasantness looming large over everything that happens as Bjorn and Louise try and remain polite to their hosts who seem intent on ensuring their house guests will never want to visit them for a weekend away again. 

While what transpires in the later stages of Speak No Evil isn’t entirely unpredictable, there’s no question that Tafdrup surprises with just how bleak and confronting he is willing to make his film get and for many of its building block scenes Tafdrup and his willing cast remain on song with Burian and van Huêt in particular great in their respective roles as polar opposite husbands and fathers who find their beliefs and methods clashing on frequent occasions, sometimes in a laugh out loud sense and other times in a jaws on the ground sense. 

Where Speak No Evil fails to properly come together is in its final stretches.

As the whole picture becomes clearer and individuals motives, strengths and weaknesses come more to the forefront there are far too many questionable character decisions and actions to make Tafdrop’s affair culminate in a way that was worthy of all the build up that so slowly but surely was being conducted before the films shocking and no doubt horrific finale comes into play. 

It’s a shame it plays out this way but I personally suspect many will feel let down by the way in which this grisly little story unfolds, with perhaps only the inevitable Hollywood remake a chance to do more when it comes to bringing this tale home in a way that feels believable, not just memorable and eye-opening. 

Final Say – 

Let down by a finale that feels as though it takes a step too far in the wrong direction concerning character decisions and actions, Speak No Evil is a memorable European horror hybrid that could’ve been a new age genre masterpiece had all the pieces fallen together. 

3 1/2 toy bunnies out of 5  

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