FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE SPEAK NO EVIL, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
Speak No Evil is a pitch-black satire on political correctness and politeness, that will keep you on edge until its final frame. This is such an excruciating watch to get through, as each scene builds upon itself, growing in dread until it’s almost unbearable to endure. I’m sure director Christian Daftrup would be overjoyed to be hearing those words right now because, in his introduction to his new movie, he said he and his brother set out to make the most unpleasant film possible… they don’t care whether you love it or hate it, as long as it gets you talking. I believe with Speak No Evil, they have succeeded in their goals.
WHAT IS SPEAK NO EVIL ALL ABOUT?
While on holiday in Tuscany, a Danish family becomes fast friends with a fellow traveling family from the Netherlands. Months later, when an invitation arrives encouraging the Danish family to visit the Dutch in their countryside home… They don’t hesitate to plan a quick getaway. Free-spirited and adventurous, the Dutch welcome the Danes for the weekend. Channeling energy that rouses their visitors as drinks flow and they start to let loose. But, what begins as an idyllic reunion… Soon takes a turn as the hosts increasingly test the limits of their houseguests. Now the Danes find themselves caught in a web of their own politeness, trying to understand whether their new friends are merely eccentric… or hiding something more sinister.
This is a slow burn in every sense of the term. We don’t actually get to the true horror until the last ten or fifteen minutes of the flick’s run. The director spends his precious time setting up the boundaries these two families have with each other. And gradually begins to tear down those barriers, until there are none left. Speak No Evil concerns itself with analyzing human behavior… How we prefer to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions rather than be impolite (even with strangers). And so we are left as an audience, in turn, feeling uncomfortable as well… possibly asking ourselves, why did I put this movie on in the first place?
HOW ARE AUDIENCES GOING TO REACT TO THE FILM?
I think Speak No Evil is going to be a tough sell to audiences in general. It’s far too leisurely in its pace for most of its runtime for horror fans to really get behind. Its final scenes are so vile and downright nasty (I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this film received an NC-17 rating), that anyone but hard-core cinephiles probably won’t be able to handle it. But, that’s exactly what director Daftrup wanted! And even if you love it or hate it, there’s no chance in hell that you aren’t going to want to talk about it in some capacity with others you know… To either bash, it, gush over it, or try to decipher what exactly happened in this film and why.
WILL THIS FILM KEEP YOU ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT?
My biggest issue with Speak No Evil is not that it takes so long to get where it’s going… But, once it gets there, it feels like it just quickly wraps everything up and ends. We have sat through these excruciatingly awkward and painful situations for 90 minutes to see what would be the fate of this poor Danish family and what the other couple is capable of… However, the pay-off doesn’t necessarily constitute all of that build-up. Still, I was gripped by this film on the edge of my seat from start to finish, despite its mostly leisurely pace. And I do think our director and his brother (who helped write the film) accomplished what they set out to do. You will never socialize with strangers on vacation again.
Speak No Evil will premiere Exclusively on SHUDDER later this year.
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