Speak No Evil Ruined Its Perfect Movie Status With Two Big Mistakes

Speak No Evil is a 2022 psychological thriller directed by Christian Tafdrup. In the film, a Danish family and a Dutch family reconnect after meeting each other on vacation, but the reunion becomes increasingly sinister. The film is about politeness without boundaries. Politeness is said to be a virtue, but Speak No Evil illustrates how too much of it can lead to disastrous consequences. Due to their politeness, the Danes find themselves in increasingly uncomfortable situations. These situations are skillfully crafted and hauntingly realistic; many viewers will find themselves relating to the Danes at a discomforting level.

The film was inspired by Tafdrup’s own experience after he turned down an invitation from a couple he had met while on vacation. What if he had been too polite to decline? The endless possibilities had he accepted their invitation prompted Tafdrup to create Speak No Evil, which displays the worst-case scenario of what could have happened. Due to the realism and relatability of the film, Speak No Evil proves to be an excellent thriller. However, two specific flaws hold it back from being a perfect movie.

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Speak No Evil Displays One Cringeworthy Situation After Another

Speak No Evil introduces a Danish family consisting of Bjørn, his wife Louise, and their daughter Agnes. While on vacation in Tuscany, they meet a Dutch family — Patrick, his wife Karin, and their son Abel — and they hit it off. Sometime later, the Danes receive a letter from the Dutch inviting them to visit. Not wanting to seem rude, Bjørn and Louise accept the invitation. Unfortunately, Patrick and Karin are not the same charismatic folks that they seemed to be while in Tuscany, and Bjørn and Louise grow uneasy with the Dutch couple’s bizarre behavior.

The situation escalates from uncomfortable to dangerous after Bjørn discovers a collection of photos of Patrick and Karin on vacation with other families with young children, as well as a drowned Abel in the pool. Bjørn wakes up his family and tells them that they need to leave but does not mention his discovery. While fleeing, their car gets stuck. Bjørn goes to a nearby house for help, and when he returns, he finds Louise and Agnes in Patrick’s car, as they are unaware of the direness of the situation. Agnes gets her tongue cut out before being taken away by an accomplice, and Bjørn and Louise are taken to a quarry, where they are stoned to death. Patrick and Karin then move on to their next potential victims.

Speak No Evil Was Undercut by Two Major Mistakes

Agnes and Louise from Speak No Evil (2022)

Speak No Evil has two major faults, both of which are in the last 30 minutes. One of the flaws is that Bjørn fails to tell Louise about the photos and that Abel was killed. Bjørn says, „We’re going home,“ when he should have said, „Abel was drowned in the pool. We need to leave and call the police.“ The Danes had already left one of the previous nights after things grew too uncomfortable, so Louise must have thought that the situation had merely become unsettling again when it had actually become dire. Since Bjørn failed to elaborate on the danger of their situation, Louise and Agnes willingly go with Patrick and Karin after they find them in the stuck car.

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The other major fault of Speak No Evil is that Bjørn and Louise fail to put up a fight just before they are stoned to death. Rather than fight back, they just accept their situation and give up. It would be understandable if Patrick and Karin were armed or much more physically imposing than Bjørn and Louise, but neither of these is the case. The film may be about the dangers of being too polite, but the message still would have landed if Bjørn and Louise had fought back at the end.

Bjørn’s politeness and inability to set boundaries are showcased many times throughout the film. For example, he continues to downplay his feelings to the Dutch when they ask why they failed as hosts, and he encourages his daughter to keep dancing for the Dutch even though she does not want to. Bjørn’s meekness and desire not to make waves are crystal clear, and putting up a fight at the end would not have changed that. On the contrary, he would be much more sympathetic if he had fought back when death was staring him and his wife in the face because that is what most people would do.

Speak No Evil has been praised by critics, as it should be. The first two-thirds of the movie are perfectly crafted and punctuated with uneasy scenarios that many people have been in themselves. However, the element of realism is not as strong in the third act, which costs the film a perfect-movie status. If Bjørn’s communication with his wife was better and if Bjørn and Louise had fought Patrick and Karin in the end, Speak No Evil would have transcended from a great movie to a flawless masterpiece.