Directed by: Christian Tafdrup

Written by: Christian Tafdrup

Starring: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg

Rating: [2.5/5]

Going on vacation is meant to bring a level of relaxation as work duties should be off your mind and you can simply enjoy the time, especially when you travel somewhere to get pampered like a resort. While there you might meet some individuals doing the same thing and it provides the perfect atmosphere as everyone is there to enjoy their free time. The family we follow in Speak No Evil certainly receives that relaxation at the start, but the new friendship they build starts to get weird and then horrifying. 

On vacation in the Tuscan countryside, Bjørn (Morten Burian) and Louise (Sidsel Siem Koch), along with their kid connect with another Dutch couple. After hitting it off, Bjøorn and Louise get invited to stay with this couple at their home, which gets awkward very quickly and they try to find a way to politely leave. 

Much of the buzz following Speak No Evil was that it upsets audience members with the content that occurs in the feature. Something that made people change their minds about their experience of the film because of what turns them off. That, evidently, also got me interested to experience exactly what this film had to offer and to judge it for myself, and yes, what transpires in this film is deeply upsetting. It opens the door for a larger conversation about content in film and how it impacts your viewing experience. While I will not divulge what the big reveal and action of this was, it crosses a line that I never knew I had. However, should the film be docked because of it? Well, for me it does and you’ll have to experience it for yourself to see if you feel the same way. 

This gut-wrenching moment is not the only aspect that turned me off from this film as the intention has certainly made sense for its larger thesis, but the execution made it painstaking to watch at times. What this film really digs into is how we let politeness and not wanting to be rude keep us in situations that have so many red flags. Each audience member can view this film and choose at what moment they would have packed their bags and left this house. It’s also easy to say from the outskirts of the story and not if they actually found themselves in the situation. This film also interestingly speaks to the vulnerability of visiting others as you leave your place of comfort and travel to a host where they know the layout and have an advantage if things were ever to go awry. Something I never thought about but now will never forget.  In the end, what eventually happened in this film could have been avoided if Bjørn and Louise decided to leave when they first were alarmed about the actions of their hosts, but because they don’t, the madness of the third act ensues. Listen, this is not the first time characters in horror films have made stupid decisions and have suffered because of it. 

It all makes sense, however, the pacing of this feature makes the eventual climb to what this film portrays so dull, and by the time the film ends all that remains just leaves this sour feeling of the feature overall. The moments of awkwardness and worrying interactions require patience which this film did not deserve. I suppose it can receive credit for almost lulling you to sleep in its second act only for its third to smack you in the face in a way you will never forget. With that being said, it still makes it quite a horrible viewing experience even if it achieved what it was trying to do as a narrative. 

For all of the complaints I have about Speak No Evil, it certainly affirms the belief of anyone who does not trust strangers, especially ones that are far too nice. The cynics have won the battle in this regard and the next time I’m on vacation, I will run away from anyone who invites us back to their house because you just never know what will be meeting you there. It certainly created a new personal fear, but the way it brings everything together shows it to be a cruel and bleak film that I just cannot endorse or even say was enjoyable.

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