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Speak No Evil(Review)[Weirdo Wednesday]

A little while back I had heard a podcaster discussing his top 10 films of 2022, and among them he highly placed an independent festival film titled ‘Speak No Evil’. The podcaster was very vague with the details, but said that this film is “fucking evil.”

He was not exaggerating
Two families – one from Holland, one from Denmark – randomly have a charming encounter while vacationing in Italy. They both speak English as a second language and have a pleasant luncheon together. Everyone is super friendly and the two kids are getting along really well – even if one of them hardly speaks because he was born without a tongue. As time goes on afterwards, they become a sort of pen-pals which leads to the Danish family being invited to stay for a weekend with the Dutch. Little do they realize that events will unfold that will disrupt and alter their lives forever.

This movie is just so misleading in its slow-burn nature – and I mean that in the best way. It begins with these truly beautiful landscape shots of things like the families spending time at giant Windmills, open fields, etc. All the while, you hear this disturbing, virtuoso music playing that sounds like something straight out of ‘Hereditary’. The pleasant visuals mix with the jarring music to unsettle the viewer immediately. The dialogue is spoken through three different languages – English primarily, with Dutch & Danish being spoken a lot as well (and not all of them come with subtitles, just to leave the audience in the dark for some particular conversations). As the story progresses at a rather slow pace, very small things begin to emerge as odd, and then they become terrifying.

You begin to witness strange behaviors. People’s personalities seem to change at random. One of the children is abused maliciously and the parents don’t show any remorse. The other family tries to interject and set things right from a morality standpoint which only leads to tension. Painfully bad decisions are made one after the other and they feel so mundane and human. All of these things are a trick to make you feel strongly about the characters here and place yourself into this increasingly awkward situation, which distracts you from the booby trap slowly being set up right under your seat.

It’s a conscious story about the results of forcing yourself out of your comfort zone to try to please others. It’s about boundaries being crossed even without the intentions. It’s about a conflict of information & communication with families whose primary languages don’t translate. And it’s about the raw wildness trapped inside of some people.

Now, at the end of the day, the only thing I need to be very clear on is this – be very careful. The final 20 minutes or so really go to some extreme measures with haunting visuals, terrifying screams, graphically disturbing violence, and an ending that makes your soul want to evaporate out of your body.

It’s absolutely amazing, and so extremely simple, but it has such a natural feeling that it just grips your wrist and refuses to let you walk away. It’s a horrifying, disturbing journey that goes further than you might predict. Thinking back on it from last night makes me wish I were no longer alive, but it’s okay, this is powerful art that stirs conversations and emotions – and at the end of the day, it just made me appreciate my family and my partner so much more than I already do.

Do not enter this journey if you’re in a weird headspace, or if you are squeamish to some taboo-breaking terror. There’s really no turning back once you go down this dead-end road.

“Speak No Evil” is currently streaming on Shudder.

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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