Speak No Evil (Gæsterne) is a Danish horror movie written and directed by Christian Tafdrup, starring Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch and Fedja van Huêt.
A Danish family befriends a Dutch family during their vacation in Italy. Some time after their vacation and back in Denmark they receive an invitation to visit their new friends in Holland. They hesitate to accept the invitation but ultimately give in having convinced themselves that it will be a pleasant trip. When they arrive to the their hosts country-house in the middle of a forest in rural Holland, and as some days pass, events start taking very dark turns.
From the very start the film distinguishes itself in its tempo and rhythm, with good photography and well edited sequences, then breaking this fine-tuned axis, every once in a while, with foreboding hints that are hardly perceptible. With the over-head shots, and good frames it is clear that the director, Christian Tafdrup, and cinematographer, Erik Molberg Hansen, are taking this seriously.
Tafdrup knows what he is doing, with referential nods to other film-makers while maintaining his own style. He has taken the best aspects of Hollywood thrillers adapted them to a new setting that works well.
This is a horror movie that can seem misleading and plays at being the typical horror story, but it turns out to be something very different. It shocks, sure, but it doesn’t leave you with that unequivocal aftertaste, say, that a Kubrick horror movie would. What the director does in order to seal his own particular movie, is to follow his own tempo, and surprising the spectator in the last act leading us into the horror, this method give the spectator, every once in a while, the impression that the movie is betraying the genre.
It is an interesting movie, with a distinct rhythm in its storytelling, and with a style that some might qualify as being very European, but that managed to convince Sundance.
It is an uncomfortable movie, and not a conventional one either, nor does it have pretensions to be a traditional horror movie. Nor is it a “critique of the conventions” as some have claimed.
This is a horror movie that knows how to deliver the goods parting from the script and the camerawork, and it knows how to play with the viewers as well as with the genre to give precisely what is sought by the spectator, namely a unique genre piece.
“Tafdrup’s squirm-inducing tale should find ready berth among genre fans. At the same time, its all-too-palpable cruelty will repel some viewers (…) Skillful, unpleasant feature”Dennis Harvey: Variety
“Assisted by the coolly distanced work of cinematographer Erik Molberg Hansen, ‘Speak No Evil’ patiently draws the darkness out of its landscapes”Isaac Feldberg: rogerebert.com
Morten Burian / Bjørn
Sidsel Siem Koch / Louise
Fedja van Huêt / Patrick
Liva Forsberg / Agnes
Karina Smulders / Karin
Marius Damslev / Abel
Hichem Yacoubi / Muhajid
Jesper Dupont / Jonas
Lea Baastrup Rønne / Fie
Sieger Sloot / Waitress