Speak No Evil (2022)

Director: Christian Tafdrup

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Starring: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja Van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg, Marius Damslev

On vacation in Tuscany, a Danish family become instant friends with a Dutch family. Months later, Bjørn (Morten Burian) and Louise (Sidsel Siem Koch) receive an unexpected invitation to visit the Dutch family. Taking their daughter Agnes (Liva Forsberg), they go for a weekend to visit Patrick (Fedja Van Huêt), Karin (Karina Smulders), and their reserved son Abel (Marius Damslev). The joyous reunion turns sour, as misunderstandings gradually get out of hand and the holiday unravels.

Based on a screenplay co-written with Mads Tafdrup, director Christian Tafdrup interrogates social niceties through an increasingly unbearable situation. As the couple are faced with an invitation they're uncertain about taking, their biggest worry is appearing impolite. It's tempting fate when the damning question is asked, "What's the worst that could happen?"

Uncomfortable situations keep occurring throughout the holiday, from the vegetarian Louise being pressured to eat boar to a dangerous drive following a drunken dinner. Despite clear issues, the guests try staying polite amidst red flags as they feel forced to remain respectful. Part of this is down to the hosts charms, helping out with Agnes while also playing on their guests sympathies. Bjørn particularly bonds with Patrick, as the Danish father is able to switch off from the technologically expanding world and escape from his pent-up frustration.

As the runtime moves along, the tension mounts amidst the increasingly uneasy situation. The decisions made will have audiences screaming at the family to drop niceties by leaving and never looking back, although the question remains whether that would solve anything. Something has hooked itself into the family, refusing to let go as the tension bubbles up. When it finally bursts, all that remains are the shattered pieces left in this bleak and unforgiving tale. A helpful tip, follow-up a viewing of this with a light-hearted favourite.

Speak No Evil is available now on Shudder