Speak No Evil review: Maybe being polite is overrated…

Speak No Evil review: Maybe being polite is overrated…

If you’re the type of (awesome) person who enjoys being subject to the psychological torture put forth by fare like Funny Games, Cache, or The House the Jack Built, you will likely go nuts for Speak No Evil. It’s just as cruel and biting as all of the titles mentioned above, and as darkly funny to boot. It’s the type of movie that will be hemmed and hawed over by those upset with the incredibly morose plot — the type of movie that is not designed to be enjoyed, but rather to imprison the viewer in that liminal space between entertainment and discomfort. The type of movie that finds its “fun” only after repeat viewings…but for which repeat viewings are a tall, stomach-churning order.

To put it simply, Speak No Evil is my type of shit.

The film follows the tragic plight of Bjørn, Louise, and Agnes who, after meeting some new acquaintances while on holiday, are invited by these new acquaintances to come spend a weekend at their country home. It’s a weird request given that both families are essentially strangers to one another, but our protagonists accept because it would be considered rude not to. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be fun. And at first, it is. Soon, little by little, the hosts step out of the realm of decency, putting their guests in a state much the opposite of “at ease.”

Is this due to cultural differences? Language barriers? Or are Patrick, Karin, and their suspiciously quiet son Abel up to something more sinister? Writers Christian and Mads Tadfrup (the former of which also directed) have a ton of pitch black fun leaving both the characters and the audience in a state of discomfort and doubt for the entirety of the picture, masterfully positing awful situations, each of which is clearly an affront to propriety, but which can also be explained away relatively innocently. We all like to watch horror flicks and think we wouldn’t fall for the tricks of a malicious actor, but a movie like Speak No Evil makes it clear that this confidence is the stuff of fantasy.

Remember toward the end of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo when (spoiler alert for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – 2011) Daniel Craig KNOWS that Stellar Skateboard is the bad guy, but accepts his offer to come in for a nightcap anyway? And then Stellar Skateboard makes fun of him for basically signing up to be killed on account of not wanting to look rude? Well, I remember, as does Pepperidge Farms, because it was a moment that severely fucked with my head. I am very non-confrontational, often to the point of being walked on, and would very likely have been killed (I am not acquainted with a golf club wielding hacker punk, unfortunately). Speak No Evil extends this horrifying moment to feature length, entertaining me for an hour or two, but shattering my psyche in the process.

Individual mileage will certainly vary, as the cruel tricks slathered upon the viewer go extremely far. Some might say too far, and I’m inclined to agree, but with the caveat that too far is the correct amount of far.

Speak No Evil is a movie that will undoubtedly ruin your evening, as is intended, but may also inspire you to stop being such a pushover, you bitch ass pushover.

Directed by Christian Tafdrup

Written by Christian Tafdrup, Mads Tafdrup

Starring Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huet, Karina Smulders

Not Rted, 97 minutes

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