“Speak No Evil” is an utterly intense breath of fresh air.

Synopsis: A Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on holiday. What was supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly starts unraveling as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of unpleasantness.
Director: Christian Tafdrup
Stars: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huet, Karina Smulders

Ari Aster, Jordan Peele, and Ben Young are the directors of Midsommar, Get Out, and Hounds of Love. I mention these three movies because they are my favourite thriller/horror movies in recent memory. Of course, if we are going to do a history of the genre, we would mention The Exorcist, The Shining, etc., but I did say recent.

Now, allow me to bring a fourth name to the table: Christian Tafdrup. The Danish filmmaker of Speak No Evil has established himself as someone who not only gets the horror genre but excels in it.

Horror films are interesting movies to review. Not only is this genre so subjective, but I always come across defiant arms-folded people who claim ‘these movies don’t scare me.’

Fair. What I find scary are things that can actually happen. I never took the red-headed doll or the guy with the hockey mask seriously, but the group of college boys being lured into a creepy hostel is a different story.

In this film, we meet two couples, one from Denmark, Bjorn (Morten Burian) and Louisa (Sidsel Siem Koch), and one couple from Holland, Patrick (Fedja van Huet) and Karin (Karina Smulders). Both couples happen to be on vacation in Tuscany, where they meet. They are about the same age, and each couple has a young child.

They enjoy each other’s company, and when their vacation ends, they exchange contact information. You know. . . because it’s the nice thing to do.

Once home, Bjorn and Louisa receive an invitation from Patrick and Karin asking them to visit, and they decide to go to Holland to stay with their new ‘friends.’

In the beginning, the visit seems to be going well. Sure, our Dutch hosts have some idiosyncrasies, but who doesn’t? Our Danish couple doesn’t want to be rude. But there are signs of things being off. Patrick claimed to be a medical doctor, but when someone gets a small cut, he has no idea what to do. And there is the phrase ‘dance like no one is watching,’ and Karin takes that to heart.

The brilliance of this film is that Tafdrup is a patient director, and he doesn’t follow used tropes that we constantly see in horror movies. He takes his time telling this story, and because nothing is rushed, the events of the third act are that much more satisfying and horrific.

The movie also grapples with the concept of risking safety for politeness. This is exactly where our Danish couple finds themselves.

The performances of our four leads are great, and you feel every emotion conveyed on screen.

This movie won’t leave you anytime soon; while it may not be for all audiences, it is utterly intense and a breath of fresh air.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and think it’s a great entry into the horror genre. Believable performances, a familiar scenario (who hasn’t met vacation friends) are all brought together in the brilliantly twisted vision of Christian Tafdrup.

Ari Aster, Jordan Peele, and Ben Young, please make room at the table for a fourth; Christian Tafdrup is about to join you.

Grade: A-

Watch the movie trailer: