The Reel Review


Months after becoming friendly while on holiday with their children in Tuscany, a Dutch family invites their new Danish acquaintances to come spend several days at their home in a remote stretch of Holland. What seems like a fun getaway to break up the families’ monotonous routines gradually devolves into a living nightmare in this Danish psychological thriller.

Fedja van Huet and Morten Burian in Speak No Evil

Wow, this film is super disturbing. Overly dramatic, ominous music is the not-so-subtle clue that something is terribly amiss in this bleak tale, which will strike a chord in anyone who has had the misfortune of being trapped between not wanting to be impolite but wanting to exit an increasingly uncomfortable situation.  The film’s naive and even arguably passive Danish couple comes from a sheltered middle-class life, not realizing that not all people are like them. They arrive to discover they really don’t know their new friends at all. They endure microaggressions, overstepping of parental boundaries and impositions. Yet they stay.

Sidsel Siem Koch and Morten Burian in Speak No Evil

Director Christian Tafdrup, who wrote the screenplay with his brother Mads, weaves a nausea-inducing tale, intentionally omitting motives to make it even more disturbing. The feeling of dread that Speak No Evil instills in the viewer is palpable, culminating in a shocking finale. Horror aficionados will appreciate the film’s dark message about always trusting your gut when something doesn’t feel right, but most others will likely regret having watched such a twisted film.


• An American remake of Speak No Evil starring James McEvoy and Mackenzie Davis is scheduled for release in August 2024.

Dutch actors and married couple Fedja van Huet and Karina Smulders

• Fedja van Huet and Karina Smulders, who portray the Dutch couple in Speak No Evil, are married in real life.

• Writer/director Christian Tafdrup says he got the idea for Speak No Evil from his own experience while on holiday in Tuscany, where his family met a kind but socially-awkward couple from the Netherlands, who later invited his family to visit. Tafdrup turned down the offer since he didn’t really know them, but some of his darkest ideas of what could happen became the basis for his screenplay.

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