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Speak No Evil

Björn and Luise, a reserved Danish couple with a small daughter, are visiting their vacation acquaintances, the extroverted Dutch couple Patrick and Karin. While there, they are exposed to small but gradually escalating transgressions.

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In the Danish horror film SPEAK NO EVIL by Christian Tafdrup, barbarism confronts politeness conventions. Björn and Luise, a reserved, friendly Danish couple with a little daughter, meet Patrick and Karin, a more extroverted Dutch couple with a silent little boy, while on their vacation in Tuscany. Back in Denmark, they receive an invitation to Holland via postcard. They feel obligated to accept the invitation. “What‘s the worst that could happen“? Björn asks rhetorically. Sune Kølster‘s film music implies doom while the images still show routine drives, dinners, and ferry connections. In Holland, Blörn and Luise are exposed to small but gradually escalating transgressions which they can‘t speak out against due to their polite disposition: vegetarian Luise is pushed to eat roast wild boar, the little daughter only gets a mattress on the floor, the bill is handed over to Björn with a flippant comment and naked Patrick suddenly appears in the bathroom while Luise is showering. These moments elicit subtle tension and a mixture of irritation, shame, and doubt and are expertly set up. When the film takes a turn to pure horror later on, and this turn ends in an allusion to the Holocaust and an archaic Biblical scene, Tafdrup overstretches the underlying idea of the film. Civilized, polite people might have difficulties defending themselves against daily transgressions. Underestimating their capacity for physical resistance, like Tafdrup does here, seems less believable. SPEAK NO EVIL is a nasty, evil and very dark film.

Tom Dorow (INDIEKINO MAGAZIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Gæsterne
Dänemark 2022, 97 min
Language: English, Dutch, Danish
Genre: Thriller
Director: Christian Tafdrup
Author: Christian Tafdrup, Mads Tafdrup
DOP: Erik Molberg Hansen
Montage: Nicolaj Monberg
Music: Sune Kølster
Distributor: Plaion Pictures
Cast: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg, Marius Damslev
FSK: 16
Release: 28.09.2023

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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