See No Evil is a worthwhile test of wills that’s sure to dampen anyone’s day with a superbly excruciating tale of monsters in civilian clothing

Speak No Evil Review


Speak No Evil is now streaming on Shudder.

"There are only two things I can't stand in this world: People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch." — Nigel Powers
Why start this review of Christian Tafdrup's masochistically cruel Speak No Evil with a quote from Austin Powers in Goldmember? Well, maybe Nigel knew something we didn't about the bloody Dutch. Speak No Evil is essentially last summer’s Hulu comedy Vacation Friends, except as an iconically twisted horror tale without sunshiny conclusions. It's in a class of relentless bad-vibes filmmaking alongside Green Room, 2012's Maniac remake, and other char-broiled tales of bleak inhumanity. Don't think this is Barbarian, where you can hoot and holler alongside pure mean-spirited horror entertainment — this is more Hounds of Love or Coming Home in the Dark, where there's no softening salvation to alleviate stomach-churning villainy.
Best Horror Movies So Far In 2022<b>X</b>
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Ti West’s X is as glorious and malevolent a return to horror features that anyone could ask for from the indie filmmaker turned prolific television director. IGN’s official review gave X an 8 out of 10, which I come in a little higher on myself. West’s incorporation of countless influences from Giallo to 70s sleazeploitation makes for an artfully chaotic brand of contemporary slasher. It’s handily one of A24’s better horror films, filled with gratuitous but oh-so-slick gore and all the sweltery southern terrorization in films like The Town That Dreaded Sundown or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
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Performances across the board help make X so memorable. It’s Jenna Ortega’s year in horror without any question, but she’s only one piece to X’s blood-splattered puzzle. Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Mia Goth, and more play above-and-beyond parts as pornographers trying to elevate their medium. West has loads of fun comparing horror to pornography in terms of public perception, while characters are granted agency beyond easy stereotypes. What’s not to like about a sex-positive slasher that swings a big ego and delivers as promised?<b>The Black Phone</b>
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Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill strike horror gold again with The Black Phone. IGN’s official review dials in a 9 out of 10, as Amelia concludes, “The Black Phone mixes the supernatural with relatable horrors in ways that will leave you both terrified and hopeful.” It’s that hopefulness that I wasn’t expecting because Ethan Hawke’s child kidnapper “The Grabber” sure is a nasty son-of-a-gun. Child actors Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw play their parts so tremendously well, it's impossible not to leave thinking the kids will be alright.
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Direction goes a long way for The Black Phone because Derrickson shows a confident and transformative command of The Grabber’s basement. It feels massive when Thames’ victim searches around for escape clues and claustrophobic when The Grabber comes downstairs to enhance sensations of chilly isolation. Add in a few paranormal scares and killer mask designs by Tom Savini, and you’ve got a definitive crowd-pleasing horror film worth acclaim. Not like that’s anything new for the team behind Sinister.<b>Nope</b>
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Jordan Peele’s no stranger to “Best of” horror lists between Get Out and Us — and Nope is no different. It’s Peele having a blast with Twilight Zone influences on a Speilbergian sci-fi scale. We don’t toss around the term “Event Horror” anymore (used to describe blockbuster horror flicks that devour the screen) but Peele has become a champion for such spectacle filmmaking now for a third time with Nope. Audiences will find an immensely entertaining UFO mystery with laughs and chills — but that’s just on the surface.
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Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, and Steven Yeun explore the nasty histories of minorities being tossed aside and forgotten by Hollywood. Our ugly relationship with spectacles is put on display while Peele still manages to keep us in awe of the overarching alien threat. Peele operates outside the more overt social commentaries of Get Out and Us, without ditching a directorial voice that’s arguably the most unique in contemporary horror cinema. In Peele we trust, and there’s a reason IGN gave the film a 9 out of 10 in our official review.<b>Scream</b>
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Radio Silence’s Scream sequel does right by franchise creators Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. It’s a requel that plays into all the tropes and decades-later revamps that have tried tirelessly to revive franchises gasping for air. IGN’s Amelia Emberwing gave the film a 9 out of 10, saying, “All of the performances are pitch-perfect, the kills are gnarly, and no version of toxic fandom is left unmocked.” I agree with those words, since the film so lovingly pays homage to multiple threads from Williamson’s original script with all the sharp genre commentary Craven loved to exploit.
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The year of “Jenna Ortega: Our Scream Queen” continues since she stars alongside Melissa Barrera as slasher surviving sisters, meeting franchise favorites like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox. There’s no chip on the shoulders of Radio Silence as they direct through another massacre that’s the most violent and relentless to date, yet comedy thrives as Jasmin Savoy Brown becomes the Meeks we deserve. Scream (2022) channels Craven, guts “Horror Twitter” with scathing commentary against gatekeepers, and feels comfortably at home in the franchise. That’s all Scream fans can ask for, shake ups and all.<b>The Innocents</b>
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In my IGN review for The Innocents, I conclude, “The Innocents is a slow-burner that stars a majority small-fry cast and yet is far more poised and impactful than those descriptions suggest.” What’s so stunning about this dark Norwegian take on children with superpowers is how mature the film treats its subjects. There’s never a desire to water-down dire consequences because wee younglings are in charge. If anything, the screenplay amplifies concepts around children not understanding the harm they can cause and how quickly some are forced to grow up.
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It’s a playground metaphor for unchecked aggression and the corruption of unlimited powers. Kids start levitating rocks and realizing they’re far more special than their parents ever imagined — both a blessing and a curse. Horror elements interfere when one child uses his abilities in hurtful ways, as the other powered children wonder how to stop his rein of terror. It’s an impactful film about choices and how quickly humans succumb to their worst impulses, made immensely more impactful given the age of all players involved.<b>Watcher</b>
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I liked Watcher a tad more than IGN’s Amelia Emberwing, whose 7 out of 10 review says, “The story will linger too long for some, but anyone willing to stick with it is in for a treat.” Chloe Okuno’s feature debut needs nothing more than a woman abroad and the man whose eyes are always locked on said woman’s figure. It’s highlighting horrors of the outside world, as society repeatedly tells women they’re perfectly safe and to stop overreacting, right before another innocent life is taken by some dude who stalked another innocent soul home late one night.
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Maika Monroe stars as the American wife of a businessman who relocates to Bucharest, Romania. Even without Burn Gorman’s insidious neighbor who ends up being the “Watcher,” Okuno does well to accentuate the loneliness of a partner doing right by their spouse through sacrifice and discomfort. Then the social commentary and voyeuristic unrest take over as both Maika and Burn do their best on the respective sides of an invasive, grossly vulnerable stalker scenario that uses reality as the utmost impetus for horror cinema. Why create imaginary monsters when our lives are filled with real ones?
Bjørn (Morten Burian), Louise (Sidsel Siem Koch), and daughter Agnes (Liva Forsberg) are your typical Danish family enjoying an exotic Tuscan vacation. Patrick (Fedja van Huêt), Karin (Karina Smulders), and speech-impaired son Abel (​​Marius Damslev) are their newfound Dutch travel buddies. After their Italian getaway ends, Patrick invites Bjørn's clan to his humble wooded residence for another escape from Danish normalcy. Should they stay in their mundane bubble or flee at Patrick's request? That’s a decision that will haunt our memories.
Speak No Evil draws its terror from basic societal themes of mistrust, midlife anxiousness, and blind faith in the nobility of others. Bjørn is smitten by Patrick's warm open-mindedness upon their Tuscany introductions because we put so much stock in first impressions. Christian and brother Mads Tafdrup pepper their script with microaggressions and apologetic pleasantries that are so commonly overlooked, only to ensure the film's climax tears our nerves to shreds. There's a balancing act that Christian wrestles throughout Speak No Evil as idyllic Dutch windmill fields look so picturesque, and enrapture a stuffier Bjørn seeking adventure — the man who's willing to ignore people's worst qualities and believe in the happiness he deserves, whether fabricated or genuine.
It's a tightrope walk as Bjørn's loved ones inhabit Patrick's isolated and homely luxury-sized cabin because we enter Speak No Evil understanding horrors await. Scrumptious feasts of juicy wild boar and laughs shared over bottles of wine can't last. Cinematographer Erik Molberg Hansen goes above and beyond when capturing Dutch countrysides as beautiful postcard-worthy landscapes to visually brighten Patrick's homeland and thus his personality. We acknowledge smiling faces, delicious foods, and healthy pours — but composer Sune Kølster scratches stringed instruments to distort domestic comforts. Kølster's score is the counterbalance that tickles tension and summons suspense, which is crucial because so much of Speak No Evil is facades and niceties while we anticipate the inevitable implosion.
By conceptual default, Speak No More becomes a character piece riding on its ensemble. Bjørn, Louise, and Agnes ditch their Danish comfort zones for Patrick, Karin, and Abel's unfounded generosity. As the proverbial wheels come off, Patrick and Karin let us know their discomfort is appropriate. Morten Burian and Sidsel Siem Koch grapple with the awkward position of defying their host's supposed best intentions — Fedja van Huêt and Karina Smulders do a magnificent job masking what hides buried underneath abundant hospitality. It's never overwhelmingly dangerous until resistance becomes futile, pitting personal weakness against alpha predator instincts. The game is always afoot, and Tafdrup's management of performance temperaments is an achievement in guilt, sabotage, and non-confrontational shortcomings.
Nothing can prepare audiences for the obscene scorched-earth finale.
Then, there's that pointy pitchfork of an ending. What's there to say beyond insurmountable despicableness that happens just because it can? Speak No Evil teases something sinister when Abel's seen early with a shortened tongue, but nothing can prepare audiences for the obscene scorched-earth finale. Once Bjørn recognizes the red flags he's forgiven, there's a franticness without recovery. Something sensationally unthinkable crawls from beneath heaps of performative goodwill that exposes humanity's slickest demons, pounding like a metal spike driven into your heart with mighty blacksmith's swings.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Matt Donato

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