Speak No Evil (2022 film)

2022 Danish film
Speak No Evil
Speak No Evil Official Poster.jpg
Official release poster
Directed byChristian Tafdrup
Written by
  • Christian Tafdrup
  • Mads Tafdrup [de]
Produced byJacob Jarek
  • Morten Burian
  • Sidsel Siem Koch
  • Fedja van Huêt
  • Karina Smulders
  • Liva Forsberg
  • Marius Damslev
  • Hichem Yacoubi
CinematographyErik Molberg Hansen
Edited byNicolaj Monberg
Music bySune Kølster
  • Profile Pictures
  • Oak Motion Pictures
Distributed byNordisk Film
Release dates
  • 22 January 2022 (2022-01-22) (Sundance)
  • 17 March 2022 (2022-03-17) (Denmark)
Running time
98 minutes
  • English
  • Danish
  • Dutch
Budget€2.8 million
Box office$210,687
Netherlands & Norway[1]

Speak No Evil is a 2022 Danish psychological thriller horror[2][3] drama film directed by Christian Tafdrup from a screenplay by him and his brother Mads [de]. It is produced by Jacob Jarek and is distributed by Nordisk Film. Filming took place in Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, and most of the movie is shot in English, with some scenes in Danish and Dutch. The film centers on Bjørn and Louise, a Danish couple portrayed by Morten Burian and Sidsel Siem Koch, who are invited by Patrick and Karin, a Dutch couple portrayed by Fedja van Huêt and Karina Smulders, to their country house for a weekend holiday; the hosts soon begin to test the limits of their guests as the situation escalates.

Speak No Evil premiered in January 2022 at the 38th Sundance Film Festival, and has been theatrically released in Denmark on March 17. It won the "Best Director Choice" award at the 26th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the screenplay, direction and the performances.[4][5]


Bjørn and Louise, a Danish couple with their young daughter Agnes, spend their vacation in Tuscany. There they meet Patrick and Karin, a Dutch couple, and their son Abel, who allegedly suffers from congenital aglossia, and is born without a tongue. A few weeks later, back in Denmark, the Danish couple receive an invitation from the Dutch couple to visit their remote rural house in the Netherlands for a weekend. Unhappy with his ordinary family life, Bjørn persuades Louise to take advantage of this opportunity for an adventurous journey.

After eight hours of driving, Bjørn, Louise and Agnes arrive at Patrick and Karin's house. During the first two days, Louise feels uncomfortable about the passive-aggressive behaviors, such as Patrick's ignorance about her vegetarianism, his anger against his son Abel, or Karin's casual swearings. Patrick and Karin decide to take Bjørn and Louise out for dinner, however Louise gets upset after learning that the children are not coming, as Karin insists on leaving Agnes with Abel’s babysitter, Muhajid. Louise's concerns are exacerbated at the dinner as Patrick challenges her vegetarianism once again, followed by the couple making out in drunkenness in front of them. Patrick furthermore manipulates Bjørn into paying for the dinner. On the way back home, Patrick, while driving under the influence, repeatedly plays loud music and upsets Louise; back at the house, he enters the bathroom to brush his teeth, while Louise is taking a shower. During the night, as Bjørn and Louise are enganged in a sexual activity, they are observed by Patrick; later Agnes calls to them crying, asking if she could sleep in their bed, but is ignored by her parents; consequently Patrick arrives and takes the girl into their bed. After Louise finds Agnes sleeping on the bed between Karin and a naked Patrick, she wakes her husband and insists on leaving. The family gets away in their car, but when Agnes realizes that Ninus, her favorite rabbit doll, is missing—which later turned out to have been under the driver's seat—Bjørn turns the car around.

Back at the house, the couple are confronted about their sudden departure by the hosts, who now act enraged and disappointed. As Bjørn fails to be blunt, Louise briefly expresses the things that made her uncomfortable during their stay. Karin apologizes, but challenges Louise on why must Agnes sleep in their bed in the first place; they eventually convince the guests to stay for at least one more day. Louise helps Karin working in the yard, while the men drive to buy grocery. In an attempt to explain how he suppresses his emotions, Bjørn trusts Patrick on their way back, and compromises his true personality. As they continue to bond, Patrick takes Bjørn to a beach where they practice screaming therapy. The men later return to the house, and while preparing for the dinner, Louise cuts her finger, after which she and Bjørn learn that Patrick has lied about being a doctor, when they first met in Tuscany. During the dinner, Karin acts overly attentive towards Agnes, giving her instructions, that eventually angers Louise. After the dinner, the children perform a dance that they had practiced together, during which Patrick treats Abel abusively for any mistakes he makes. After he throws a glass towards Abel, Bjørn argues with him and Karin about their behavior regarding their son.

Later on that night, Bjørn hears Abel's nightly moaning sound, which suddenly stops after Patrick visits the boy's bedroom. Other voices gradually draw him into a room, where he finds numerous images on the wall depicting Patrick and Karin with other couples on holidays, the same as Bjørn and Louise. The chronological order of the images suggests that the Dutch couple are commited to a long pattern of deceiving families in order to murder them, abduct their child, and cut off the child's tongue to silence them. As he rushes to wake Louise and Agnes, Bjørn finds Abel's body drowned in the pool; he takes his family in the car and drives without telling them about his discovery. After their car breaks down, Bjørn leaves his family in the vehicle to search for help in a house in the vicinity. When he returns, he realizes that his wife and daughter are missing, and Patrick and Karin now have them in their car. He is not sure what to do, so he begs for the safety of his family, as Patrick forces him in his car. For the sake of Louise and Agnes' safety, Bjørn remains silent about what is really going on. As the car is driven to an unknown location, Louise realizes that something is not right, but is ordered by Patrick, who beats Bjørn into submission, to remain silent.

Upon stopping the car, Muhajid arrives and holds down Louise, and with Patrick holding Agnes’s mouth open, Karin cuts out her tongue with a pair of scissors. Muhajid takes Agnes in his car and drives away, as Patrick continues driving to eventually stop on a deserted road. Before the Dutches force the Danes to get undressed, a bloody-faced Bjørn asks them why they are doing this to them, to which Patrick replies: "Because you let me".[6][7][8] Bjørn and Louise are then forced into a ditch, where they are subsequently stoned to death. Some time later, a mute Agnes is forcibly playing the role of the Dutches' daughter, as the couple target another vacationing family for their next potential murder.


  • Morten Burian as Bjørn
  • Sidsel Siem Koch as Louise
  • Fedja van Huêt as Patrick
  • Karina Smulders as Karin
  • Liva Forsberg as Agnes
  • Marius Damslev as Abel
  • Hichem Yacoubi as Muhajid


Speak No Evil is the third feature film by Christian Tafdrup, who is mostly active as an actor, and his first genre film, in which he tries to combine the drama genre with social commentary and psychological horror elements.[9] He co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Mads Tafdrup [de]. Jacob Jarek acted as producer, with the production costs estimated to be €2.8 million.[10] Filming had to be temporarily interrupted in Denmark and the Netherlands due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was mostly filmed in English,[9] and further recordings took place in the Netherlands and Italy.[11]

The project was presented at the Nordic Film Market as part of the Gothenburg Film Festival before it was completed in January 2021 and was strongly courted by distributors. The film rights were subsequently sold to Australia and New Zealand, the Benelux countries, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Hungary.[9][12]


Speak No Evil received an invitation to the Midnight section of the 38th Sundance Film Festival, which included: "horror and comedy works that defy genre classification", where it premiered on January 22, 2022.[13] It is distributed by Nordisk Film and was theatrically released in Denmark on March 17, 2022.[14]


Box office

As of September 26, 2022[update], Speak No Evil has grossed $195,705 in the Netherlands, and $14,485 in Norway, for a worldwide total of $210,687.[1]

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 83% of 83 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.40/10. The website's consensus reads, "A social satire with razor-sharp teeth, Speak No Evil offers a darkly delicious treat for fans of misanthropic thrillers."[15] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 78 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Sundance Film Festival touted the film as a "brilliantly provocative and simmering satirical work of horror [that] incriminates both sides".[2]

Reviewing the film for IndieWire, Susannah Gruder praised the acting performances (specially Morten Burian's) and gave it a grade of "A" on an "A+" to "F" scale, and called it "the most cunningly depraved horror film in years [that offers] a piercing commentary on the ways we accommodate others to the point of self-subjugation".[3] The New York Times-based critic Jeannette Catsoulis gave the film a score of 90/100, and while praising Tafdrup's direction called it "an icy satire of middle-class mores [that glides] inexorably from squirmy to sinister to full-on shocking [and] is utterly fearless in its mission to unsettle".[5]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Ostend Film Festival 4–12 March 2022 Best Coproduction Speak No Evil Nominated [17]
Seattle International Film Festival 14–24 April 2022 Best Film Nominated [18]
Chicago Film Critics Association 13–19 May 2022 Narrative Feature Nominated [19]
Filmfest München 22 June–2 July 2022 Best Film by an Emerging Director Christian Tafdrup Nominated [20]
Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival 7–17 July 2022 Best Director Choice Won [21]
MOTELx - Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror de Lisboa 6–12 September 2022 Best European Feature Film Speak No Evil Won [22][23]
Sitges Film Festival 6–16 October 2022 Best Motion Picture Pending [24]


  1. ^ a b "Speak No Evil". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Press release: Writer/Director Christian Tafdrup's thriller, SPEAK NO EVIL, to World Premiere at Sundance Film Festival". Nordisk Film. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b Gruder, Susannah (22 January 2022). "'Speak No Evil' Review: This Chilling Danish Horror Offering Is the Opposite of Hygge". IndieWire. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  4. ^ LePire, Bobby (22 January 2022). "Speak No Evil (Gæsterne) | Film Threat". Film Threat. Retrieved 26 September 2022. Thanks to a smart screenplay, excellent, stylish direction, and an outstanding cast from top to bottom, the entire production will unnerve and shake up all watching.
  5. ^ a b Catsoulis, Jeannette (8 September 2022). "'Speak No Evil' Review: Impolite Company". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  6. ^ Agrawal, Shikhar (16 September 2022). "'Speak No Evil' Ending, Explained: What Happened To Bjorn and Louise? Is Agnes Dead Or Alive? | DMT". DIGITAL MAFIA TALKIES. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Speak No Evil (2022) - Sundance Film Festival". Cultural Hater. 29 January 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  8. ^ filmfest (17 August 2022). "SPEAK NO EVIL fantasy filmfest 2022". fantasyfilmfest. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Mitchell, Wendy. "Buyers shout for TrustNordisk psychological thriller 'Speak No Evil' (exclusive)". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  10. ^ "SPEAK NO EVIL". trustnordisk.com. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  11. ^ Grater, Tom (2020-06-12). "TrustNordisk Boards 'Speak No Evil'; BFI Gives $1.4M To UK Cinemas; AGC Takes 'John Lewis' Doc To Cannes – Global Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  12. ^ Mitchell, Wendy. "Hot presentations at Goteborg include 'Stranger,' 'Speak No Evil', 'Hypnosis'". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  13. ^ Thompson, Anne; Erbland, Kate; Thompson, Anne (2021-12-09). "Sundance 2022 Lineup: New Films from Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Jesse Eisenberg, and More". IndieWire. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  14. ^ "SPEAK NO EVIL". FilmFyn. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  15. ^ "Speak No Evil". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Speak No Evil". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  17. ^ "Speak No Evil | Filmfestival Oostende". www.filmfestivaloostende.be. Ostend Film Festival. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  18. ^ "Speak No Evil". www.siff.net. Seattle International Film Festival. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  19. ^ "Speak No Evil — Chicago Critics Film Festival". Chicago International Film Festival. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  20. ^ "SPEAK NO EVIL". www.filmfest-muenchen.de (in German). Filmfest München. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  21. ^ Kwak Myeong-dong (July 15, 2022). "제26회 부천국제판타스틱영화제 작품상 '혼자가 아닌'(부천 초이스), '신체모음.zip'(코리안 판타스틱) 수상" [26th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival Award for Best Picture 'Not Alone' (Bucheon Choice), 'Body Collection.zip' (Korean Fantastic)]. My Daily (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  22. ^ filmSPOT. ""Speak no Evil" e "Vórtice" ganham no Motelx" ["Speak no Evil" and "Vortex" win at Motelx]. filmSPOT (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  23. ^ MOTELX. "Speak No Evil - Filmes // MOTELX - Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror de Lisboa". MOTELx - Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror de Lisboa (in Portuguese). Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  24. ^ "SPEAK NO EVIL | Sitges Film Festival". sitgesfilmfestival.com. Sitges Film Festival. Retrieved 26 September 2022.

External links

  • Speak No Evil at IMDb
  • Speak No Evil on Mubi
  • Speak No Evil at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival
  • Speak No Evil on trustnordisk.com
  • v
  • t
  • e
Films directed by Christian Tafdrup
  • Parents (2016)
  • A Terrible Woman (2017)
  • Speak No Evil (2022)