Speak No Evil (2022)
Directed by: Christian Tafdrup
Written by: Christian Tafdrup, Mads Tafdrup
Starring: Fedja van Huêt, Hichem Yacoubi, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg, Marius Damslev, Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch
SPEAK NO EVIL (2022)
Directed by Christian Tafdrup
Danish couple Bjorn and Louise, and their young daughter Agnes, become friendly with a Dutch family during their holiday in Italy. Several months after their holiday, they receive an invitation to visit Patrick, Karin and their son Abel in Holland. A reserved Louise is hesitant but Bjorn is raring to visit them for the weekend and so they hit the road and travel to the Netherlands by car.
Upon arriving at their hosts’ home, they’re welcomed with open arms and whilst everything is initially enjoyable, the experience begins to get more uncomfortable as the days go on, leaving the family wondering whether visiting this family, who they don’t really know, was a good idea at all?
Horror thriller SPEAK NO EVIL sent shocked viewers into meltdown on social media upon its release on streaming channel Shudder and for very good reason. This tale of a holiday friendship that goes south strikes visceral fear into audiences with its blunt, bleak and brutal approach. It all starts so innocent and friendly which is how it manages to seep under your skin as we see the Danish and Dutch family bond on their holiday abroad and later the opportunity arises to spend some time together in the picturesque countryside for a weekend. Of course, there’s always the “what if?” when facing the idea of visiting a family you hardly know, with mother Louise being a prime example of someone who’s concerned that a holiday friendship should perhaps stay as that, but her husband Bjorn’s yearning to be in the company of the family is what drives the decision.
The Danish family’s arrival in Holland is graciously welcomed and all fears seem to be put aside. A frustrated Bjorn, who’s been having issues since his holiday in Italy, seems to relish the idea of spending time with Patrick, someone who has success, a beautiful home in the country and a loving family. It’s puzzling why Bjorn feels this way when he seemingly has everything he could want with his own family, but his frustrations remain. This holiday seems like the ideal opportunity for him to sort his head out. However, it doesn’t take long for little things to raise their head in Patrick and Karin’s household. Though minor things at first, such as Louise vegetarianism being challenged, more and more differences seem to cause a divide between the two families, and being guests in their home, Bjorn and Louise feel obliged to cooperate.
SPEAK NO EVIL magnificently captures the awkwardness of its uncomfortable scenes of disagreement, as Bjorn and Louise try to be as polite as they can to their hosts, even in the face of things they don’t agree with. It’s so painful to watch with the tension so thick you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. It feels as though things could bubble over at any moment and, as a fly on the wall to these confrontations, it leaves the viewers on pins at how the dialogue is going to play out. The movie cleverly navigates these scenes before taking the film in perhaps a more run-of-the-mill horror direction, but its ultimate conclusion will leave fans aghast.
A masterful build up with plenty of moments that will have you screaming at the screen as the tension snowballs, SPEAK NO EVIL will put you off holiday friendships for life.