April 14, 2024

SPEAK NO EVIL (2022) – Slow burn tale of horror Danish style


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is Danish writer/director Christian Tafdrup’s brainchild. A cautionary tale of sorts on the risks one take when making new friends during a vacation in another country. Bjorn and Lousie (played by Danish actors Morten Burian and Sidsel Siem Koch) are a Danish couple who befriends a Dutch couple in a vacation in Italy. They immediately strike up a friendly relationship. Some time passes and one day, the Duitch couple invites the Danes over to their country home for a holiday weekend. Bjorn is keen to accept as he somehow sees it as something to look forward to from his routine life so they make their way to the Holland.

But of course nothing is what it seems in a movie like this as things begin to slowly get edgy and uncomfortable for our guests. Christian Tafdrup has a great talent in drawing us and getting us feel involved in the story. He does this subtly through casual everyday dialouge that we can easily identify with, punctuated with some dramatic music and flashes of images that shows facial expressions or body languages which are sending out warning signals to our unsuspecting Danish couple. The characters come across as being more believable and real, rather than the usual bimbos and cartoon like characters we normally see in horror movies. We can see why the Danish couple were so taken in by the Dutch couple which elevates our sense of involvement in the story. So despite its slow burn approach, the film progresses along in an engaging manner that never feels boring.

Ultimately of course the real horror begins to manifest itself in the film’s final act. Most viewers would have probably figured out something fishy and the inevitable outcome, but the way it is performed is still unsettling.

Speak No Evil, works in many levels because of its unconventional style and the easy way in which it tells it story. In fact it is so smooth that we overlook much of the film’s logic and characters’ behavior which upon reflect, felt unrealistic. Why didn’t they act and escape despite all the red flags? I would have also liked this more had the film provided some satisfactory background that may explain the motivation behind the actions of the antagonists. This somehow made its closure incomplete and less that satisfying. Speak No Evil is a Danish movie with its dialogue mainly in English. It had its premiere in the Sundance Film Festival in January this year. It is an impressive effort from an unknown Danish director.

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