SPEAK NO EVIL (2022) Reviews [Sundance] of Danish vs. Dutch family nightmare

 

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Speak No Evil is a 2022 horror drama thriller film about a Danish family visiting a Dutch family they met on a holiday in Italy. However, what was supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly starts unravelling as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of increasing tension and intimidation.

Directed by Christian Tafdrup from a screenplay co-written with Mads Tafdrup. Produced by Jacob Jarek and Ditte Milsted.

The Profile Pictures-OAK Motion Pictures co-production stars Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem, Koch Fedja, Van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg and Marius Damslev.

Update [22/01/22]:

The Shudder streaming service has acquired rights to Speak No Evil ahead of its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is now set for release in North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland in late 2022.

Speak No Evil is a bold entry into the genre for writer/director Christian Tafdrup that expertly blends terror, humour and the mundanities of human interaction,” said Craig Engler, general manager of Shudder. “We can’t wait to transport our members to the Dutch countryside for a casual weekend of psychological twists and shocking turns.”

Said director Christian Tafdrup, “I am delighted to team up with Shudder as our distribution partner for Speak No Evil — I am so looking forward to meeting the U.S. audiences with this film, and appreciate the great passion and ambitions of the Shudder team.”

Plot:

On a vacation in Toscana, Italy, a Danish family instantly becomes friends with a Dutch family. Months later, the Danish couple receives an unexpected invitation to visit the Dutch in their wooden house and decide to go for the weekend.

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

However, it doesn’t take long before the joy of reunion is replaced with misunderstandings. Things gradually get out of hand, as the Dutch turn out to be something very else than what they have pretended to be. The small Danish family now find themselves trapped in a house, that they wish they had never entered…

Reviews:

“A nihilistic satire nestled deep within a strange drama, waiting for unsuspecting viewers to have the rug pulled out from under them at the very last second. However, seasoned horror fans will already be savvy to the tricks, tropes, and plot beats found in this niche subgenre of grim pessimism, making for an unmoving and frustrating experience.” 2/5 Bloody Disgusting

Speak No Evil is a points excruciating as Tafdrup gradually crafts a meticulous unpleasant tension as the hosts toy with their guests. Examining the veneer that humans can create to achieve emotional manipulation, Speak No Evil presents horror at its most provocative, worryingly human and downright horrifying.” 4/5 Culture Fix

“Less an ultra-violent bloodbath than an exploration of how quiet emotional violence can erode the soul, Speak No Evil melds a gamy indictment of modern living with just a sliver of the more typical fare its premise might suggest. This unique, tonally adventurous horror-of-manners mines incredible discomfort from its thorny satire of middle-class toothlessness, even if it can’t fully stick the more familiar landing.” 3/4 Flickering Myth

Speak No Evil is very much a film about identity and how we want others to see us […] While Speak No Evil has satirical moments, its third act surprises and horrifies. This is the type of film you’ll immediately want to talk about after you see it, especially the ending. It lures you in with some of its strange and funny moments before eventually rendering you speechless with some moments of utter brutality.” 9/10 Horror Buzz

” …a truly chilling work, fraught with perfectly-timed rising tension, that dissects social facades and asks how far we will go to protect our personal sense of civility. It may do for potential new friendships what Jaws did for keeping people out of the ocean. Speak No Evil firmly takes its place as the first entry on my “favorite films of 2022, regardless of genre” list.” Horror Fuel

Speak No Evil lacks the gradual payoff of the best in sizzlingly slow horrors. Still, this is a well-constructed film that mostly works. The juxtaposition of the two families against one another serves to emphasize the bizarre curiosities of the Dutch family, to the point that they seem almost alien in nature to the good-hearted Danish family. For those seeking a rich horror mystery, Speak No Evil may speak to them.” 3/5 Josh at the Movies

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Speak No Evil is a fresh, clever social horror film drenched in dread. Writer/director Christian Tafdrup and co-writer Mads Tafdrup conjure up a story that seeks to make audiences cringe from satirical encounters but also fear what looms beneath the surface. Speak No Evil delivers on thrills, chills, and an intriguing satire on human interaction.” Showbiz Cheat Sheet

” …while it’s reasonable to assume that Bjørn and Louise may have eventually fallen into their hosts’ trap through the slippery slope of consciously ignoring the warning signs, Tafdrup isn’t willing to let that play out in an especially nervy manner. Speak No Evil’s concluding moments are ghastly, but by the time it gets there, it only cares to prod its protagonists like cattle for the sake of cheap thrills.” 2.5/4 Slant

” …it takes a very long time for anything really wrong to occur in Speak No Evil, whose screenplay was written by Tafdrup and his brother Mads. But that doesn’t make the going any easier for viewers. The director shoots and cuts almost every scene so that the most innocuous action seems charged with the expectation that something awful is about to erupt, cranking viewer tension to an unpleasant degree.” Variety

Festival releases:

Speak No Evil will have its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on January 21st. The film’s next showing will be at the Gothenburg Film Festival in Sweden on January 29th.

Cast and characters:

Morten Burian … Bjørn
Sidsel Siem Koch … Louise
Fedja van Huêt … Patrick
Karina Smulders … Karin
Liva Forsberg … Agnes
Marius Damslev … Abel
Hichem Yacoubi … Muhajid
Lea Baastrup Rønne … Fie
Jesper Dupont … Jonas
Adrian Blanchard … Derek
Sarina Maria Rausa … Hannah
Ilaria Di Raimo … Babysitter
Sieger Sloot … Waitress
Ilaria Casai … Opera singer
Martina Barreca … Opera singer
Alessio Barni … Opera singer
Andrea Benucci … Lut player

Filming locations:

Fyn, Denmark
Italy
Netherlands

Technical details:

1 hour 37 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Original title:

Gæsterne “The Guests”

Trailer:

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